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The Psychology of 
Ego -Involvements 





Princeton University 

New Yor*: JOHN WILEY & SONS, Inc. 
London: CHAPMAN & HALL, Limited 



AU Rights Reserved 

This book or any part thereof must not 
be reproduced in any form without 
the written permission of the publisher. 




In this book on the psychology of ego-involvements we are 
attacking a problem which it seems crucial to solve if we are ever 
to acquire a scientifically defensible account of man's relationship 
to the world around him with all its natural laws, its technological 
developments, and its social products. 

Here we are only able to sketch in bold relief what appears to 
be the psychology of ego-involvements. Much more must be added 
later to complete the account. But, as we point out in the first 
chapter, it seems to us that the broad outline presented here will 
accommodate this further work without any major alterations. 

Evidence from a wide variety of sources, including studies from 
the experimental laboratory, investigations of everyday life be- 
havior, public-opinion surveys, observational studies of children and 
adolescents, sociological data, and field material of anthropologists 
and ethnologists, has almost fallen into place of its own accord. 
Although we have cited rather extensive references, our job has 
been more one of selection than accumulation of data: in nearly 
every chapter, we have had to satisfy ourselves with the inclusion 
of only a few of the many reports, observations, or experiments 
that might have been mentioned. Those who are familiar with 
the various areas we have touched on will know the vast literature 
it is possible to tap. 

The bulk of chapters 2, 3, and 4 were first published in the Psy- 
chological Review in November 1945 and January 1946. These 
articles have been slightly elaborated here. The material is re- 
published with the permission of the American Psychological As- 
sociation. The writers acknowledge the permissions granted by 
the various publishers and authors for the quotations used. Great 
care has been taken in each instance to provide bibliographical 
references by means of which the reader can identify the author 
and publisher to whom credit is thereby given. 

A State Department fellowship to Princeton University for 


Shcrif and a contribution from the Marshall Field Foundation to 
Princeton University, enabling Cantril to be relieved of some teach- 
ing duties and allowing us bibliographical and secretarial assist- 
ance, combined to make it possible for us to work closely together. 
We acknowledge this assistance most gratefully. 

Carolyn Wood Sherif has worked with us since late 1945. She 
has greatly aided us in selecting some of the material and in pre- 
paring certain chapters. 

We gratefully acknowledge the help of Drs. Harold and Mary 
Cover Jones of the Institute of Child Welfare of the University of 
California for allowing us to go over some of their unpublished 
material on adolescence. 

We are indebted to Donald Stauff er and Whitney J. Gates of the 
Princeton faculty for their apt suggestions of certain of the literary 
passages cited in chapter 13. Mildred Strunk also assisted us in the 
selection of examples for this chapter. 

Elizabeth V. Deyo has ably managed many of the details con- 
nected with our work and has prepared the manuscript for pub- 

Dr. Herbert S. Langfeld made a number of editorial suggestions 
which improved the manuscript. 


Princeton, N. J. 
June 24, 1946. 




Recent Attitude Studies and Methodological Considerations 

A Characterization of Attitudes. 



Frames of Reference in Relation to Structured and Unstruc- 
tured Stimulus Situations Social Factors in Laboratory Situ- 



Experiments Using Everyday Life Material Stereotypes 
Political Attitudes Panics -Social Movements Frame of 
Reference in Some Recent Economic Works. 



Misuse of the Concept of "Ego" Attitudes as Main Consti- 
tuents of Ego Ego a Genetic Formation Ego Not a Fixed 
Entity Ego-striving is Not Instinctive: No Innate Ego 

Ego-involvements in Laboratory Tasks Ego-involvements as 

a Set for Learning Ego-involvements Shown in the Intensity 
of Attitudes Status and Class Identification as Ego-involve- 
ments Some Recent Reviews of Experimental Literature. 

A Review of Some Studies on Ego Development The Ef- 
fects of Certain Social Factors on Ego Formation. 

The Problem of Adolescence in a Sociological and Psycho- 
logical Setting Adolescence in Different Cultures and Times. 




The Developing Ego Rendered Unstable and, at Times, Criti- 
calThe Adolescents' Reactions and Efforts to Re-establish 
Themselves to Some Degree of Stability The Effects of Age- 
mate Reference Groups and Membership Groups in the Re- 
formation of the Ego-attitudes Some Implications of the 
Foregoing Material for Our Problem. 


TIONS 280 

The Structural Properties of Groups Individual Members as 
Influenced by Group Norms and Identifications Some Psy- 
chological Leads Some Verifications of the Effects of Group 

"The Apparel Oft Proclaims the Man" We See Ourselves in 

the Movies "What's in a Name?" The Martyr Ego-in- 
volvements Determined by Situation Status within Groups 
Job Satisfaction. 

Dissociation of the Ego from the Body The Ego May Tem- 
porarily Dissolve Breakdowns of the Ego Under Extreme 
Deprivation The Ego May Break Down if Established 
Norms Collapse The Ego May Regress, Dissociate, or Be- 
come Re-formed Under Extreme Situations of Stress Ego- 
breakdowns in Abnormal and Pathological Cases. 


\Freud's Formulations Where Freudian Theory Leads in 

Social Psychology Modifications with Cultural Emphasis- 
Why Psychoanalytic Formulations Must Be Rejected- 




Among other problems brought into sharp focus by the impact 
of momentous events and changes are the problems of human 
beings themselves. A growing sense of dissatisfaction and disillu- 
sionment with things as they are today is causing many people to 
question traditional conceptions of "human nature'^wfficlt have 
tended to be taken for granted. Many social scientists, who s per- 
haps feel called upon even more than psychologists to give some 
explanation or to find some solution for things as they are, almost 
inevitably put forth, concoct, or rehash verdicts concerning human 
problems and the role the human factor plays in our complex 
world. Often some account of "human nature" is vigorously ad- 
vocated as a premise with which to justify the perpetuation or 
acceptance of an existing set of human relationships in religious, 
social, or economic life. 

And certain aspects of these accounts of "human nature" have 
important bearings on ego problems. Some people argue that 
human beings are self-seeking. Others deny it. Some maintain 
that man is endowed with a craving for power. Some find pri- 
marily in man's nature the elemental seeds of a need for out- 
stripping others. There are those who assume that "human 
nature" is the source of all harmony and solidarity. Problems of 
"human nature," as related to war and peace, to egotism and altru- 
ism, to human self-centeredness or selflessness, are among the cur- 
rent topics of hot debate among a good many people within and 
without the psychological profession. Such issues touch closely on 
the facts that concern us in this book. They indicate that ego 
problems are matters of everyday life human relationships; that 
they are not mere academic topics to be discussed and argued by 
those who can afford the luxury of such an exclusive pastime. 

The word "ego" is a much-abused word. It has long suffered 


scientifically objectionable associations in religious, philosophical, 
ethical, and psychological writings. Because of this, it might have 
been safer to refer to the mass of material we are handling in this 
book by a new term. But psychology today seems to be overflow- 
ing with new terms, especially among those who write on topics 
concerning social psychology and who create concepts to suit their 
personal preferences. So we reluctantly chose to retain the word 
ego. But we have taken pains to use it only in factually demon- 
strable connections. 

For there is great need for such a concept. The differential 
character of a tremendous number of reactions observed both in 
the laboratory and in everyday life must be designated by some 
such concept. The ego is inferred from behavior whether verbal 
or nonverbal To be more specific, reactions are modified and 
altered to a greater or lesser degree when they are ego-involved. 
The ego, as we shall repeat time and time again, is not an entity. 
It is not fixed and immutable even after it is formed. 

In the following chapters we have preferred to use as much as 
possible terms like "ego-involved reactions" instead of "ego." For 
expressions such as "ego-involvements" or "ego-involved reactions" 
are less tainted with the objectionable associations which "ego" 
has suffered historically in the substantive form. The expression 
"ego-involvements" and its derivatives have come into use in psy- 
chology during the past decade, chiefly in connection with ex- 
perimental investigations or theories related to empirical evidence. 

An innumerable wealth of hitherto disconnected observations 
and facts have all converged to compel us to formulate certain 
conclusions concerning the formation and functioning of a con- 
stellation in the psychological make-up of the individual which 
may be designated as the ego. There are observations on the 
genetic development of the integrated person, as well as on the 
varieties of disintegration and breakdown. There is a great mass 
of data on the effects of collective behavior. There is an impressive 
array of experimental facts obtained during the last ten years and 
concerned with the differential effects of ego-involvements. 

The reason these scientifically collected data lend themselves so 
readily to a concise formulation is that they have their concrete 


counterparts in everyday life. They are so general that it took 
almost no effort on our part to find further verifying evidence 
from concrete human relationships and from the colorful expres- 
sions of personal relationships found in literary works. This con- 
verging of facts from so many different sources is, in a nutshell, 
the hypothesis the following chapters verify. Dogmatic statements 
presented as hypotheses here in the introduction will acquire sub- 
stance or remain as mere idle intellectual chatter on the basis of 
the evidence we have tried to bring together in this volume. 

The ego is not innate in the sense that certain other psychologi- 
cal functions, such as perception, are innate. Nor is ego-striving 
innate in the sense of an instinct, drive, or need such as the innate 
striving for food, water, or a sex object. There is no instinctive 
ego drive, no innate need for domination or submission, for suc- 
corance or idol worship. Nor is the ego a basic personality pat- 
tern, unique and unchangeable in the person. That constellation 
in the psychological make-up of the human adult which may be 
designated as the ego (or by any other convenient concept) is a 
genetic formation. The newborn infant, even though biologically 
integrated, has no ego. And no ego would develop in him 
through maturation if it were not for two facts. First, the fact 
that his psychological functioning and his alone in the whole 
animal kingdom can take place on a conceptual (symbolic) level. 
This enables him to grasp reciprocal relationships and to make 
effective use of the accumulation of diverse concepts and symbols. 
Second, once man is equipped biologically with the possibility of 
functioning psychologically on a conceptual level, he has to live in 
a lawfully ordered world of nature where social relationships and 
their products impose on him the necessity of regulating and 
adapting himself to lawful nature and to the established order of 
human relationships. Without these impositions, these restrictions, 
resistances, and rewards of nature and especially of the established 
social order surrounding him with its material and technological 
products, its institutions, its accumulated symbols, values, and 
norms, there would be no consistent and continuous ego formation 
in the individual. 

This is substantiated by the fact that the egos of individual 
members of different social orders are shaped in their major 


features by the image of those social orders. History and ethnol- 
ogy convincingly show that these .images may in some cases be 
diametrically opposite in character. In accounting for these dia- 
metrically opposite variations, descriptions of the ego in terms of 
instincts or needs with long and impressive lists of ego drives 
utterly fail The logical argument to which instinctive ego drive 
theories must resort is to posit the existence of different human 
species at different times and in different places. 

In brief, the ego consists of many attitudes which from infancy 
on are related to the delimited, differentiated and accumulating 
"I," "me," "mine" experiences. These attitudes, which may be 
designated as ego-attitudes, are constituent components of the ego. 
Apart from the constellation of these ego-attitudes, there is no such 
entity as the ego. In fact many attitudes are not discrete affairs in 
the psychological make-up of individuals. They are attitudes that 
define and qualify an individual's relative standing to other persons 
or to institutions in some more or less lasting way. They are 
attitudes that determine the more or less enduring character of 
one's personal identity with the values or norms incorporated in 
him. When these attitudes are situationally called for, when they 
are at any time consciously or unconsciously involved in a psy- 
chological function, we become personally involved. And when 
we do become personally involved, then our discrimination, judg- 
ment, perception, remembering, thinking, and explicit behavior 
are accordingly modified or altered. 

Once formed, the ego is by no means rigid and unchangeable. 
To a large extent, ego-involvements are situationally determined. 
The same words of insult that may be gracefully swallowed in one 
situation may lead to violent exhibitionistic reactions in another. 
In certain cases the threshold of sensitivity of ego-involvements 
may be quite low, in other cases quite high, depending on the 
demands of the situation and the psychological condition of the 
individual. These thresholds of ego-involvement may be measured 
in an empirical way. Since attitudes, the constituents of the ego, 
are subject to change and transformation, the ego is also subject to 
chaqge and transformation with changing situations of a major 
character. Such transformation can be clearly observed in the 


changing ego of the adolescent boy or girl, especially in times and 
in societies where social transition is rapid. 

The psychology of the formation and functioning of ego-atti- 
tudes is governed essentially by the same principles as the general 
psychology of attitudes. The psychology of attitudes is, therefore, 
basic to the psychology of the ego. Consequently, we have had to 
deal first and at some length with the psychology of attitudes $nd 
carry the conclusions reached there to the treatment of ego-in- 
volvements. Characterized in broad outlines, an attitude is an 
established readiness which has a subject-object relationship of 
highly variable content, which is learned (formed), which has 
affective properties with various degrees of motivational compo- 
nents, which may refer to whatever stimuli are encompassed in 
the subject-object relationship, and which determines that an in- 
dividual will react to a stimulus in a selective way. Once formed, 
an attitude serves as an anchorage to structure or modify subse- 
quent experience or response. 

This broad characterization of attitudes also holds basically true 
in the case of ego-attitudes. Many attitudes and especially ego- 
attitudes are formed in relation to and directed towards objects or 
persons that satisfy basic needs. Hence the affective and emotional 
halo of many ego-strivings that make an individual highly selec- 
tive and highly self-centered sometimes to the point of appearing 
deaf and blind to cues in objective situations spring from such 
relationships. Many of the attitudes revealed in everyday life 
contacts define an individual's status for him in relation to other 
people. Many embody the values a person upholds for himself and 
regulate his claims and aspirations in relation to others. These 
ego-attitudes are therefore highly charged affective anchorages. 

Every individual strives to place or to anchor himself as an 
acceptable member in his social milieu or in some social setting, 
whatever the particular criteria for acceptance by his group or his 
aspired group may be. This is true for any individual in any cul- 
ture, whether highly competitive or highly co-operative, whether 
primitive or advanced. There is an unmistakable striving on the 
part of the individual to belong to his group or -to some aspired 
group. Lack of social belongingness and conflicts in belonging- 
ness (marginality) are painful. Once the ego is formed to the 


degree of grasping reciprocal human relationships, this striving to 
anchor oneself becomes more compelling because of the emotion- 
ally charged character of ego-attitudes. 

Yet mere acceptance of an individual by a group in his milieu 
or by some group he aspires to will not do forever. The mere 
sense of belongingness does not bring lasting satisfaction. A 
young man may aspire, as an ideal, to enter a certain college. But 
once he gets there, he acquires new ideas and tries to be somebody 
as prescribed by the hierarchical arrangement of social relation- 
ships in the college. A man may reach his ideal of belonging to 
some club. But after admission as a member, he may set his eyes 
on some position at the top of the club's social pyramid. In groups 
everywhere social life is necessarily hierarchical. 

The striving for social acceptance and approval, which at times 
reaches intense proportions, does not have to be attributed to the 
urges and stresses of some special instinct. All attitudes function 
in well-formed frames, in referential settings. If the situation does 
not produce its appropriate frame in an individual, he tends con- 
sciously or unconsciously to structure the situation, at least pre- 
cariously, in a way determined by the stresses of his internal and 
internalized desires, deprivations, and anchorages. Experiences of 
ambiguity and confusion are tense and unpleasant. Relief from 
such experiences becomes even more imperative in connection with 
ego-attitudes, for these delimit and define one's sense of personal 
security. If ego-attitudes are experienced as relatively stable, then, 
psychologically, one's sense of status in relation to other persons, 
groups, or institutions is secure. At times, any status, any standing 
in a group is preferred to none, even though it may be felt as quite 
unsatisfactory by the individual himself. Many a person has pre- 
ferred to sweat out his ego problems in a group rather than face 
ostracism or break away into uncertainty. 

It seems plausible to us to regard individual differences of ego- 
striving as due to individual differences in glandular activity and 
other temperamental factors, to individual differences in the func- 
tioning of basic drives such as those for food and sex, and to 
individual differences in general physical vitality and intelligence. 
In addition to such basic individual differences, of course, favor- 
able or adverse circumstancfes for the satisfaction of basic needs, or 


for the attainment of a secure position, further contribute to differ- 
ential ego-strivings. There is no need to assume any differential 
ego instinct. 

A conservative capitalist and a revolutionary communist may 
both defend their respective views with equal intensity. A Repub- 
lican and a Democrat may fight one another tooth and nail over 
the Administration's foreign policy and may both be frustrated 
persons. The millions of people who followed Hitler were surely 
not all perverse psychotic creatures. The flourishing post mortem 
accounts which attribute fascist barbarism in Germany to the per- 
verse complexes of Nazi leaders look ridiculous when one remem- 
bers the predictions and warnings made to the world in all earnest- 
ness in the early 1930's by those observers who took the situational 
determination of social movements seriously. 

We are not arguing here that personality characteristics, indi- 
vidual frustrations, or elations are not important psychological 
facts. Far from it. We have to learn as much as we can about 
them. But we do maintain, on the basis of accumulating evidence 
in several fields, that, in dealing with the identifications, ego- 
involvements, and loyalties of individuals, the social psychologist 
(for these are social psychological problems) should start first by 
relating the individual to his reference and membership groups 
and then proceed to the finer details of personality problems. For 
an individual's identifications and ego-involvements, his more or 
less lasting loyalties, and the values he does so much to uphold as 
his own, have no meaning apart from his reference and member- 
ship groups. For the social psychologist, the fact that a person 
identifies himself with the Catholic Church or with a revolution- 
ary party, or that he is a marginal man and hence has conflicting 
loyalties, is at least as important as a knowledge of his measurable 
or unique personality traits or of how his toilet habits were handled 
in infancy. Once a person is placed situationally in his group 
setting, then information concerning his personality characteristics 
will further help us account for the< differential character of his 
reactions. These two approaches should not be regarded as a 
dichotomous antithesis but as different aspects of the work to be 
done if the picture of man's ego-strivings is to be complete. 


In this volume we have tried to give only the broad outlines of 
the psychology of ego-involvements. It is, therefore, an incomplete 
treatment of the subject. The all important topics of motivation 
and personality must be considered in further work. Although 
incomplete, still, in our opinion, the main sketch of ego-involve- 
ments presented here will not have to be changed to any consider- 
able degree when motivational and personality factors are brought 
into the picture. For the values one upholds as his personal values, 
the goals he sets for himself, do not function in a vacuum or in 
abstraction. These values and goals as well as all major ego-atti- 
tudes are formed in or in relation to social groups. Investigations 
of motivation, personality characteristics, or other differential qual- 
ities will more adequately account for an individual's particular 
reactions in interpersonal relationships and more accurately predict 
his ego-involvements in a given situation if he is studied first in 
relation to his reference and membership groups. It seems safe to 
say that apart from a person's reference of himself to such groups, 
he would not develop the consistent ego which defines his identity 
in a more or less continuous way from one day to the next. 


During the past two decades the problem of attitudes has 
become central in social psychology. Thus, G. W. Allport writes: 

The concept of attitude is probably the most distinctive and indis- 
pensable concept in contemporary American social psychology. No 
other term appears more frequently in experimental and theoretical 
literature. [1, 798] l 

Murphy, Murphy, and Newcomb, in their monumental volume 
summarizing the state of social psychology in 1937, again empha- 
size the point: 

Perhaps no single concept within the whole realm of social psy- 
chology occupies a more nearly central position than that of attitudes. 
[19, 889] 

We need not multiply these representative statements from other 
sources to demonstrate the important position the concept of atti- 
tudes holds in contemporary social psychology. 

The study of attitudes is by no means the concern of psycholo- 
gists alone. It is significant that sociologists feel as much at home 
in the study of attitudes as do psychologists. Some sociologists 
have gone so far as to equate social psychology with the study of 
attitudes. [5, 11, 27] Attitudes became a focal problem in experi- 
mental psychology in the first decade of this century. As a conse- 
quence of the introspective analysis of the higher mental processes 
at Wiirzburg, descriptions were given in "attitudinal" terms such 
as Einstellung and Rewusstseinlagc. [21, 30] With this prominent 
start in experimental psychology, attitudes came to stay as an im- 
portant concept in that field. 

In this book we are proceeding with the conviction that experi- 

1 Roman numbers inclosed in brackets indicate the references at the end of each 
chapter; italic numbers indicate page numbers in those references. 


mental and social studies on attitudes have much to contribute to 
each other in bringing about a unified psychology of attitudes. 
The psychologist's task is to give an adequate account of the psy- 
chological mechanisms involved in the formation of an attitude in 
any individual. The formation of a social attitude in the individ- 
ual should be essentially the same as the formation of any attitude 
if the explanation of this formation is to be psychology at all. 
We are here groping in this direction. As we shall see, attitude 
studies at present do not give us a unified picture. In fact the 
problem of attitudes is in a very confused state. Perhaps the con- 
fusion has increased in proportion to the wealth of literature: 
different investigators have had different interests and points of 
view in approaching the problem. 

Attitudes in social life. When we look at any society, whether 
primitive or highly developed, whether simple or complicated, we 
observe conformities of behavior, within the limits of variations 
due to individual differences, on the part of the individual mem- 
bers of any society as they carry on the daily business of living 
for example, in regulating instinctive activity, dress, likes or dis- 
likes of other groups, or responses to events which have social 
significance. When analysis and explanation of these established 
conformities are carried to the psychological level, the problem 
becomes primarily one of the psychology of attitudes. 2 

We have used the term "established conformity" very deliber- 
ately. For these established conformities result from conformity 
to social standards or norms which have come into existence in a 
deterministic way as a consequence of the interaction of individ- 
uals in the all important business of living. Individual members 
within a society come to acquire these established conformities of 
experience and behavior within the limits of their individual 
differences. 3 We may, in fact, say in a summary way that the 

2 The question of whether or not the whole of social psychology consists of a 
psychology of attitudes is not our problem here. We may only say in passing that 
it is our opinion that social psychology does not consist only of the psychology of 

8 Without the enormous temperamental differences between individuals being 
in any way ignored, a systematic awareness of the fact that temperamental differ- 
ences always function within a given social context and set of norms would under- 
cut and bring into proper perspective typologies such as those advanced by Jung, 
Spranger, and Sheldon, which attempt to explain social behavior by categorizing 
personality. [15, 22, 25] 


socialization which occurs when an individual becomes a member 
of a group consists mainly in the achievement of conformity ia 
experience and behavior to social values, standards, or norms al- 
ready established. And the process of achieving conformity is, if 
we analyze it closely, nothing more nor less than the formation 
of appropriate attitudes in relation to these socially standardized 
values or norms or other criteria of conduct. 


The approach to the psychology of attitude has been many-sided. 
The early work of the Wiirzburg laboratory gave the historical 
setting to more recent work on Aufgabe. In 1918 Thomas and 
Znaniecki stimulated other sociologists to analyze the concept of 
attitude further as a useful tool in the explanation of the phenom- 
ena with which they dealt. The work of cultural anthropologists, 
such as Boas, Malinowski, and Sapir, and of many contemporary 
ethnologists highlights the variation in cultural norms and the 
consequent differences in the attitudes of individuals living under 
different social systems. 

Investigators such as G. W. and F. H. Allport, Daniel Katz, 
Bain, Paris and Lasker concerned themselves with the genesis 
and nature of attitudes. F. H. Allport, Thurstone, Bogardus, 
Likert, Droba, and others worked out procedures for measuring 
attitudes. The attitudes of all kinds of people toward almost all 
conceivable subjects have by this time been measured. Quite re- 
cently, the interest in measuring attitudes has given way to the 
measurement of public opinion by the use of stratified samples of 
different populations. While the techniques for measuring atti- 
tudes and opinion can be usefully employed to gather valuable 
information on attitude determinants and properties, and while 
the data obtained from such measurement often have a high prac- 
tical, strategic, or systematic value, the great bulk of quantitative 
research has been designed for the primary purpose of measure- 
ment alone, not systematic understanding. 

Thomas and Znaniecki held that "every manifestation of con- 
scious life, however simple or complex, general or particular, can 
be treated as an attitude." [27, 27] In a critical appraisal of their 
work, Blumer points out that this blanket use of the term attitude 


makes it "a kind of psychological catchall, since, as the authors 
state, it may refer to any psychological process, or item of con- 
sciousness. To take as a basic datum anything that includes such 
diverse things as appetites, conceptions, feelings, decisions, sensa- 
tions, desires, ideas, and sentiments is to operate with a complicated 
and indefinite concept." [4, 24 /.] After an exhaustive review of 
the literature on the psychology of attitudes, Nelson reports his 
impression, shared by others, "of the wide variety of meanings 
which are ascribed to this term." [20] He cites 23 rather distinct 
characterizations given the term "attitude" by psychologists or 
social scientists up to 1939, ranging from "organic drives," "neural 
sets," or "trial responses," to "ways of conceiving objects," or sum 
totals of "inclinations, feelings, notions, ideas, fears, prejudices, 
threats, and convictions about any specific topic." In a recent 
paper concerned with the definition and use of "attitude" in social 
psychology, Strauss points out that "the concept, despite its key 
position, is marked by considerable confusion." [26, 329] He notes 
that much of the research on attitudes has little or nothing to do 
with attitude theory and that the use of attitude as a "common 
sense explanation" rather than as a "genuine causal explanation" 
[334] has retarded systematic understanding. 

It is therefore not surprising that some strict experimentalists, 
dissatisfied with what they may regard as the "practical" or un- 
systematic nature of attitude research in social psychology, look 
down on it and on social psychology in general as having little 
to do with pure science. They may take it as an example of why 
the pure scientist must follow Titchener's dictum and stand "apart 
from the great majority of his fellow men," disavow interpretation 
as something entirely "foreign to him" and move "in the domain 
of bare existence." [28, 69 /.] 

The laboratory and everyday life. Before proceeding with a 
discussion of the psychology of attitudes, it is necessary to clear up 
the relationship between pure experimental research and the sys- 
tematic study of attitudes in everyday life situations. A psycho- 
logical construct, if it is to prove valid and adequate, must be as 
valid and adequate in handling the stuff of ordinary human affairs 
as in handling the controlled variables of the laboratory experi- 
ment. Various writers have fallen into the error of making a dis- 


tinction for one reason or another between "psychology" and 
"social psychology." Klineberg, for example, makes such a dis- 
tinction "for purposes of convenience" [17, 4], and puts his em- 
phasis on a demonstration of "the wealth of social patterning" 
rather than on the "constants of human behavior." [8] 

Science consists of a set of conceptual constructs which have 
high predictive value. If a psychologist is to make any claims that 
will have scientific validity, he must obviously be as objective as 
possible. This does not mean, however, as Titchener believed, 
that a psychologist must be "disinterested and impersonal." The 
highbrow superciliousness of those who hold that a true "scientific" 
psychologist should not and cannot deal with the concrete realities 
of men in their social life comes from their confusion of the fact 
that scientific objectivity derives from its methods and not from 
the aloofness of its observers. [10] William James long ago 
pointed out that psychology is scientific to the extent that it uses 
methods which make verification possible, irrespective of the the- 
ories, biases, or prejudices of the experimenter. "The most useful 
investigator, because the most sensitive observer," said James, "is 
always he whose eager interest in one side of the question is 
balanced by an equally keen nervousness lest he become deceived." 
[14, 21] 

Since the scientist's objectivity derives from his methods rather 
than from his own interests or from the type of material with 
which he deals, and since the psychologist's goal is to understand 
the thought and behavior of men in real life situations, the scien- 
tific psychologist becomes obligated to formulate concepts that will 
stand up both in the laboratory and in everyday life. [7] His task 
is, of course, particularly difficult since the determinants of thought 
and action in real life are so complicated, the context within which 
they function so varied and changing. 

If the psychologist becomes fearful of the consequences of cross- 
ing a border line which he feels separates his scientific laboratory 
research from its application to real life problems, he should re- 
member that the concepts of chemistry, physics, and biology have 
been developed by frequent crossing back and forth. Theoretical 
concepts arrived at in the laboratory have been tested for their 
adequacy in normal nonlaboratory contexts. In the history of the 


physical sciences, real life situations have forced modifications and 
revision and have stimulated further research which has produced 
more adequate constructs. Julian Huxley, for example, has 
pointed out the interdependence of application and theory in con- 
tributing to the advances of the physical sciences. [13] Giving 
examples of research on high voltage and its use in the transmis- 
sion of electricity, he notes that "sometimes it is not very clear 
what is pure and what is applied, or in which direction the current 
is flowing." 

Fortunately for psychology, most of those now working in the 
field are becoming increasingly aware of the challenge which the 
explanation of everyday life situations poses for them. We mention 
the problem here because it is essential to our argument that any 
final conceptualization of the nature of attitudes must make quite 
explicit the mutual dependence of data obtained from the labora- 
tory and data obtained from real life situations. In other words, 
the nature of attitudes is not two problems one for die laboratory 
and one for everyday life but one single problem. 

The concepts or variables thus formulated will eventually make 
it possible to construct a psychology of attitudes which can be used 
to study any kind of attitude, social or nonsocial, in this or any 
other social system. For in spite of cultural diversities, psycho- 
logical laws ought to be the same for individuals in any social 
system. Otherwise, logically speaking, we should be arguing, even 
if we do not mean it, for some sort of "cultural racism," similar to 
biological racism. If psychological laws are not the same for all 
individuals, then the German Kultur apologists were right in 
arguing that the members of their unique Kultur could be under- 
stood, not explained, only by die peculiar logic of their Kultur. 4 

Evaluation of norms. We must make one more prefatory re- 
mark before discussing psychological concepts themselves: explain 

4 In the field of anthropology an adequate synthesis of the psychology of attitude 
should be a guide to more adequate generalizations on the anthropologist's own 
level. Anthropological concepts which try to fit cultures into types or which imply 
the uniqueness of cultures are for a psychologist quite incomprehensible. From 
our point of view, the derivatives of different economic and social organizations 
studied by the anthropologist are social norms and values which act as social 
stimuli and, as such, have characteristics important for the anthropologist and the 
social psychologist to study. 


our position concerning the evaluation of standards, social values, 
or norms, since this position has important ideological implica- 
tions. We repeat that standards, social values, and norms are the 
product of human interaction in the process of living. There is 
no finality about them. They are not absolute. In spite of their 
inertia after they once come into existence, and in spite of the 
efforts of those who for one reason or another are vitally interested 
in preserving the established order, we observe in the course of 
history that social standards, values, or norms do change as a con- 
sequence of new modes of human interaction brought about by 
changes in technological and economic conditions. 

Any given individual is confronted with the social standards, 
values, or norms of his environment. In short, social norms are 
first external to the individual or on the stimulus side with respect 
to him. As such, social standards, values, or norms are first of all 
the data of the social sciences, not of psychology. Strictly speak- 
ing, then, the task of the psychologist is to study the formation of 
attitudes as a consequence of contact with these social norms 
through other individuals or groups or through various products 
of the social and economic environment. In spite of the diversity 
and variations of social standards, values, or norms in different 
societies, human beings do by and large form attitudes in con- 
formity to their group. 

The psychologist and the social scientist, however, cannot com- 
placently stop at this point. They can go further and show the 
consequences of the experience and behavior which are regulated 
by attitudes developed and prescribed by existing social norms. 
On the basis of such studies, they can reach conclusions as to 
whether or not the attitudes formed are conducive to a harmonious 
and well-adjusted personality or to a contradictory and unadjusted 
personality, whether or not the attitudes formed bring about social 
solidarity or friction. In short, the psychologist and the social 
scientist can reach conclusions concerning the extent to which 
attitudes formed from prescribed social norms conform to or are 
contradictory to the objective conditions existing at any given 
period in a given social system. 

Our present tas\. We have seen that in spite of the wealth of 
material in the field of attitudes, we still do not have a unified and 


established psychology of attitudes. The phenomena covered by 
the concept "attitude" vary to a large degree in their specificity and 
range. On the one hand we have strict experimental laboratory 
investigators interested in the attitude or set to a very limited and 
precise stimulus situation in a laboratory setup; on the other hand 
we find social psychologists and social scientists working on atti- 
tudes of individuals or groups to a whole nation or race, or to 
values and concepts which have wide extensions such as the con- 
cepts of fascism and democracy. It is no wonder, therefore, that 
investigators working on one level of generality often use concepts 
which have very little meaning or relevance for investigators 
working on a different level of generality. 

It is our methodological conviction that attitudes in strict labora- 
tory situations and attitudes in the most complicated social situation 
have, essentially, the same psychological mechanism at bottom, 
that the basic psychological substrata functioning in both instances 
are the same in nature. As a result of brilliant experiments still in 
progress on the relation of vision to human behavior, Adelbert 
Ames of the Dartmouth Eye Institute has concluded in a prelimi- 
nary report that "The processes that underlie our perception of our 
immediate external world and those that underlie our perception 
of social relationships are fundamentally the same. The insights 
gained in the study of visual sensation can serve as indispensable 
leads to better understanding and more effective handling of the 
complexities of social relationships." [2, 7] This is, of course, not 
in the least a denial of the rich and complicated motivational, 
affective, and cognitive factors involved in social or interpersonal 
attitudes. But, in order to develop concepts which have scientific 
generality of the kind found in the natural sciences, we must give 
up the purely descriptive concepts used by social psychologists and 
sociologists and see what functional variables have been well estab- 
lished and verified in experimental psychology and other con- 
trolled investigation. Once equipped with these well-established 
variables or concepts, we can then proceed to see if we can extend 
these to the more complicated cases of attitudes which lead the 
individual to react in characteristic ways in actual social inter- 

Our specific task then becomes self-evident. We shall look for 


the most essential criteria which can be detected in any attitude 
from the relatively simple case of the laboratory setup to the more 
complicated situations in actual social life. We shall proceed with 
a minimum of assumptions, 


Attitudes are among those components of the psychological 
make-up of the individual which determine that he shall react, 
not in a passive or neutral way, but in a selective and characteristic 
way, especially in relation to certain specific stimulus situations. 
Attitudes are not, of course, the only psychological components 
or states that determine that an individual will react to the envi- 
ronment in a selective or characteristic way. When the individual 
is hungry, thirsty, or sexually aroused, or in some other emotional 
state, or has been recently stimulated by a functional change in 
the receptor organ or in the organism at large, he reacts in selec- 
tive or characteristic ways to the environment. Attitudes, then, 
are among the various psychological factors which determine the 
individual's selective reaction to his environment. 

In all the representative definitions or characterizations of atti- 
tudes, one feature is common: that an attitude, whatever else it 
may be, denotes a functional state of readiness which determines 
the organism to react in a characteristic way to certain stimuli or 
stimulus situations. A glance at some representative definitions 
of attitudes, imposes on us the fact that their essential feature is a 
functional state of readiness. 

The "attitude" is primarily a way of being "set" toward or against 
certain things. [Murphy and Murphy, 18] 

[Attitude] is readiness for attention, or action, of a definite sort. 
[Baldwin, 3] 

Attitude the specific mental disposition toward an incoming (or 
arising) experience, whereby that experience is modified, or, a condi- 
tion of readiness for a certain type of activity; . . . [Dictionary of 
Psychology, Warren, 29] 

An attitude is a more or less permanently enduring state of readiness 
of mental organization which predisposes an individual to react in a 

6 This characterization follows that presented by Sherif in [23] and [24]. 


characteristic way to any object or situation with which it is related, 
[Cantril, 6] 

After reviewing these and other representative characterizations 
of attitudes, G. W. Allport reaches the conclusion that "the essen- 
tial feature of attitude" is "a preparation or readiness for response." 
Allport gives his own definition in which this functional state of 
readiness is essential: 

An attitude is a mental and neural state of readiness, organized 
through experience, exerting a directive or dynamic influence upon 
the individual's response to all objects and situations with which it is 
related. [1] 

Whatever other features attitudes may have (and the features of 
attitudes do vary according to the degree of complexity), it is 
certain that all attitudes have a state of readiness in common. 
However, every state of readiness of the organism is not an atti- 
tude. There are numerous states of readiness which cannot be 
called attitudes. For example, a child of two or three is hardly 
ever neutral or passive to his environment. He is apt to be ex- 
tremely partial one way or another to the things or persons sur- 
rounding him. He is constantly seeking all sorts of satisfaction. 
All these momentary tendencies imply states of readiness. But in 
spite of all this, we can hardly say that a child of three is full of 
attitudes. In fact he has very few (if any) established or stable 
attitudes. He may have developed some attitudes toward certain 
persons like his mother or certain objects such as types of food. 
But a child at this age will even react in a very negative way to 
his mother if she proves to be an obstacle in his effort to gain some 
satisfaction at the moment. We need not elaborate here other 
cases of readiness which cannot properly be labeled as attitudes. 

We must conclude therefore that cases of readiness are not 
exhausted by all cases of attitudes. The state of readiness of the 
organism is a more general term. Attitudes constitute special cases 
of readiness. Therefore, we must have some concrete criteria 
which single out cases of readiness as attitudes. It seems to us 
that the following five criteria are found in cases of readiness 
which are labeled as attitudes. 


1. Attitudes always imply a subject-object relationship. Atti- 
tudes are always related to definite stimuli or stimulus situations. 
These may be objects stich as home, automobile, souvenir, some 
particular eating place; persons such as one's own body, mother, 
father, brother, some friend, rival, teacher, sweetheart, wife; or 
groups of people such as classmates, playmates, Negroes, the com- 
munity; institutions such as the school, college, church, club; or 
socially established and standardized concepts, values or norms 
such as the flag, the Constitution, democracy. These subject-object 
relationships are not innate, are not biologically given. The items 
or objects toward which the subject-object relationship is devel- 
oped are always first on the stimulus side for the individual. Only 
after contact with these outside stimuli, does any relationship 
develop between them and the individual. 

In various definitions of attitude, the content of an attitude is 
often mentioned in such terms as "objects," "social stimuli," "social 
objects." [20] But the content of attitudes will depend upon the 
particular nature of the subject-object relationship established. 
The contents of attitudes are as numerous and as different as the 
stimulus situations to which attitudes are related. 

2. This means that attitudes are formed and formed in relation 
to objects, persons, and values which may or may not have moti- 
vational appeal at first. Almost any food may satisfy hunger, but 
we may develop a special liking for a special food, even for a 
special restaurant, and even a special table in that restaurant. 
When these particular likes or dislikes are more or less fixated, 
we have formed attitudes in relation to these particular objects. 
Almost any average member of the opposite sex will satisfy sexual 
need, but when it is fixated, with all its affective overtones, it 
becomes an attitude an attitude toward a particular person. 
George Bernard Shaw has aptly defined a lover as a man who 
exaggerates the difference between one woman and another. 

Since attitudes are not innate states of readiness, inasmuch as 
they are formed in relation to particular objects, persons, institu- 
tions, and values or norms, the individual has first to come into 
contact with them. And coming into contact is a perceptual situa- 
tion. This means that the primary stage in the formation of atti- 
tudes is a perceptual stage. The presence of a perceptual stage is 


of the utmost psychological importance. For certain basic facts 
about perceptual situations provide the starting point for the 
formation of attitudes, as we shall see in the next chapter. 

The perceptual stage in the formation of attitudes is especially 
important in cases of attitudes which do not have a motivational 
(instinctual) basis. 6 As the accumulating investigations in the 
field of attitudes show, many social attitudes are formed through 
verbal judgments of adults. Indeed the most directive and impor- 
tant social attitudes which determine status, social distance, and 
the like seem to be formed through verbalized short-cut dictums 
or value judgments and through situations which outwardly do 
not have any momentary motivational appearance. 

The fact that attitudes are not innate but are formed as a result 
of the individual's contact with his environment means, of course, 
that attitudes are learned or conditioned. Just what the psycho- 
logical or physiological mechanisms of this learning may be are 
irrelevant to the present discussion. We are concerned here with 
demonstrable psychological properties and characteristics of atti- 
tudes. Obviously, the more adequate the psychology of learning 
or conditioning becomes, the better will we understand the proc- 
esses involved in attitude formation. But it is almost inconceivable 
that any final adequate account of learning developed in the future 
would ever negate the statement that attitudes are formed. 

3. Attitudes have affective properties of varying degrees. Estab- 
lished attitudes are charged with affective or value properties in 
varying degrees. The affective property of attitudes may be due 
to motivational (instinctual) origins such as hunger and sex (as 
exemplified in cases of attitudes toward a certain food, a certain 
restaurant, a sweetheart or wife) or may be due to nonmotivational 
sources (noninstinctual). 

The affective property of attitudes with instinctual origins is 
self-explanatory. The affective property of attitudes with non- 
instinctual sources is due to the fact that these attitudes are formed 
in relation to social values or norms which in themselves are 
standardized affective fixations. They are usually verbalized short- 
cut value judgments such as "the home is a sacred institution." 

6 We are using the term "motivation" here to denote only drives, needs, or 
instincts, which have a definite origin in the organism of the individual. 


Value judgments are always given in adjectival form. And all 
judgments given in terms of adjectives certainly have affective 
properties. The social values presented in short-cut dictums, or in 
other ways accompanied by praise or blame, naturally are affec- 
tively charged. The individual is forced to respect and uphold the 
values of the family, school, church, or other institutions he is a 
member or would-be member of. If he does not respect and glory 
in his flag, he is compelled to. The very fact of membership and 
participation in group activity or ceremony makes certain stand- 
ardized values or practices sacred, justifiable, right, honorable, or 
dutiful in the individual's eyes. Consequently, the attitudes an 
individual forms in relation to such activities or practices become 
affectively charged. 

Another important reason why attitudes are affectively charged 
is the fact that many attitudes prescribe the individual's relation- 
ship, status, or role with respect to other individuals or groups 
(such as teacher, worker, boss, minister, assistant). And experi- 
ences connected with status are affectively charged. 7 

4. Attitudes are more or less enduring states of readiness. 
There are states of readiness which are more or less momentary, 
depending on the state of the organism and the situation at the 
time. For example, we may be very hungry and snatch a loaf of 
bread. After we have eaten enough and become satisfied, the loaf 
may be pushed aside. At the time of sexual tension, a person 
toward whom there is no established attitude but who can satisfy 
the sexual need may be passionately seized, but, after the need is 
satisfied so that the tension is resolved, one may never look at the 
person again. In these cases the state of readiness dissolves as the 
satiation point is reached, at least for the time being. But not so 
with attitudes. They are more or less enduring states of readiness. 
Thus a wounded soldier tries to show his respect to his superior 
officer who has really shared the hardships with him. A very 
much preferred food may be the subject of praise after the point of 
satiation has been reached. A sweetheart still has the sentimental 
halo in the eyes of her lover even after sexual satisfaction. A dear 

7 Without making a special issue of it at this point, we may note in passing 
that attitudes related to role or status are ego-involved. And ego-involved experi- 
ences and responses have affective properties (sec chs. 5, 6, 11). 


friend is still liked even during moments of minor friction. Some 
people in India actually starve to death rather than eat meat which 
is "forbidden" by the very rigid norms established and accepted by 
Hindus. These examples are sufficient to illustrate the fact that 
attitudes, once formed, are more or less enduring states of readi- 
ness, quite independent, within limits, of the momentary states of 
the organism. 

An attitude becomes a more or less enduring state of readiness 
because of the cognitive components in its formation. We have 
seen that attitudes are not innate entities, that they are formed as 
a consequence of contact with objects, persons, or situations to 
which they are related. We referred to these contacts as the per- 
ceptual stage in the formation of an attitude. It is this perceptual 
stage which begins to give an attitude its cognitive component in 
the process of formation. Since the first stage in the formation of 
an attitude is a perceptual stage, we can begin at once to utilize 
the concepts developed to account for perceptual situations. Here 
we are on relatively safe ground. The fact that attitudes are more 
or less enduring indicates, further, that attitudes are learned. 
And the more adequate the account of learning becomes, the bet- 
ter will we be able to understand the basis for an attitude's en- 
during quality, just as we will better understand the basis of its 
formation. And it is also almost inconceivable that any final ex- 
planation of learning would alter the statement that attitudes are 
more or less enduring. 

We should be very clear on one point, however, so as to avoid 
misunderstanding. We have said that attitudes are more or less 
enduring states of readiness to stimuli, objects, persons, groups, 
values, or norms, in relation to which they are formed and which 
determine the individual to react in a characteristic way in relation 
to them. But attitudes are not absolute fixed states of readiness. 
Since they are formed as a consequence of contact with objects, 
values, or norms to which they are related, they may change or 
disintegrate. For example, good friends may become deadly ene- 
mies; a religious person may become an atheist; a conservative 
may become radical as a result of contact with new facts and 


5. Attitudes range in the number and variety of stimuli to which 
they are referred. Since attitudes develop as a consequence of 
experience, and, since attitudes involve a cognitive component, the 
extent or range of stimuli to which an individual will relate an 
attitude will vary according to the nature of the source of the 
attitude and according to the relationship the individual makes 
between an attitude and the stimulus situation he confronts. 
Although certain attitudes, especially some of those created in lab- 
oratory situations or those of children, may only be evoked by the 
situation under which they originally developed, the more usual 
process is that an attitude, once established, will be related by the 
individual to a variety of objects or situations that have not neces- 
sarily been active in its original establishment. 

The wide range exhibited by some attitudes is possible because 
of the fact that the stimulus situation toward which the attitude 
has developed is itself extensive, that is to say, possible of repre- 
sentation or expression in many different specific contexts. When 
we noted as our first characteristic of attitude that it always im- 
plied a subject-object relationship, we pointed out that we could 
label institutions, concepts, social values, or norms as "objects" in 
this sense. Social attitudes toward such stimulus situations are, 
we have said, often derived from the verbal judgments of others. 
For example, once an individual has accepted the value judgment 
of his group that "Negroes are inferior" and should occupy a 
lower status in society, he can and does easily relate his acquired 
attitude to innumerable specific situations. As we shall see, a 
considerable body of research in the past two decades has shown 
that attitudes have a directive effect in specific situations, that a 
very general attitude will reveal itself in a wide variety of ways. 8 

Classifications of attitudes. This approach to the problem of 
attitudes renders meaningless various attempts to classify them. 
G. W. Allport has summarized the major varieties of classification: 

8 In this connection, the experimental work on meaning and association time is 
significant, in view of the fact that the upshot of the controversy was that meaning 
is more immediate than specific association. (See the experiments of Moore, 
Tolman, Weld, and Cantril.) This being the case, the immediate "meaning'* 
reaction determines the range rather than specific associations. This is illustrated in 
the references, for example, to Kay's study of personal and general frames [16] 
and Horowitz's study on the development of race attitudes. [12] 


positive and negative, specific and general, public and private, 
common and individual attitudes. [1] Since the characteristics of 
any attitudes in any individual will vary according to the situation 
or circumstances under which the attitude has developed and the 
function the attitude serves for the individual, any classification of 
attitudes becomes almost as nebulous as any classification of stimu- 
lus situations (including objects, persons, groups, values, and 
norms) or of personal and societal relationships. Simple dichoto- 
mous classifications especially distort and falsify the problem. 
Take, for example, the distinction made by Thomas and Znaniecki, 
between "common" and "individual" attitudes. Their use of the 
word "common" refers to attitudes "common to all conscious 
beings," their use of "individual" refers to attitudes "peculiar to 
only one individual member of the group." [27, 18] Such a dis- 
tinction makes no place for the attitudes of members of small or 
large groups, or the attitudes characteristic of a given social sys- 
tem, not to mention the elaborate and tenuous classification that 
would be necessary to place an attitude according to the subtle 
variations it might have for the individual with reference to the 
attitudes of other members of the same group or social system. 
And just because some attitudes are common to a large enough 
number of people to lend themselves to measurement does not 
mean that a distinction between "common" and "individual" 
attitudes has any more than a loose descriptive value. Classifica- 
tions of attitudes, like classifications of personalities, represent a 
rigid structural approach which is apt to obscure or be mistaken 
for a truly functional analysis. 

The psychology of value included in the psychology of attitudes. 
We have said previously that attitudes always imply a subject- 
object relationship and that attitudes are affectively charged. 
Hence the stimulus or object or group to which an attitude is 
related is reacted to affectively. In other words, the stimulus, 
object, person, group, or norm in relation to which an attitude is 
formed has value, either positive or negative and in different 
degrees for that individual. We are using the word "value" to 
denote these affective qualities. Therefore, the problem of value 
as an affective quality is part of the psychology of attitude. 


We do not mean to say that all attitudes are social attitudes or 
that all attitudes are related to social values. An attitude may be 
developed toward certain woods in which a person has taken soli- 
tary walks, or an attitude may be formed in relation to almost 
anything peculiar to the surroundings and experiences of the 
individual. And we might mention in passing the abnormal 
fixations sometimes made by individuals on queer and unusual 

In spite of this fact, however, the attitudes most important in 
daily life are social attitudes attitudes formed in relation to other 
individuals, groups, institutions, tools and technology, standardized 
values, or norms. These are the attitudes that really determine an 
individual's reaction to other people, other groups, and that map 
out for him the main boundaries of his experience and taste. 
Most of these social attitudes are transmitted by short-cut verbal 
value judgments. Words are the most common medium for both 
the formation and the expression of social attitudes. And it is 
probably for this reason that some psychologists have character- 
ized attitudes as verbalized dispositions. Although we know the 
social attitudes of others largely from the words they use, most of 
us do have many quite personal attitudes not related to social 
values, which we may seldom if ever express attitudes toward 
some loved one, some one we strongly dislike, some personal 
keepsake, some house. To be sure, if we are probed concerning 
these things, we will be able to express our attitude. But many 
attitudes we may have which we may never verbalize are just as 
much "attitudes" as those we do verbalize spontaneously. The 
point is that all attitudes, whether social or nonsocial, whether 
verbalized or nonverbalized, function essentially according to the 
same psychological principles, even though there may be differ- 
ences of content, richness, compellingness, or endurance. 

Although the psychology of values is involved in the psychology 
of attitudes, it should be borne in mind that social values, being 
first on the stimulus side in relation to the individual, are essen- 
tially the data of the social sciences. Social psychologists become 
interested in and concerned with social values simply because 
social values are part, and an important part, of the stimuli that 
surround man and, through stimulation, influence him. 


Special cases of attitudes. Various terms such as "set," "stereo- 
type," "prejudice," and "opinion" may all be regarded as attitudes 
with particular characteristics which have been given certain labels 
by common use. The psychological states described by all of these 
terms are developed in relation to certain stimuli in the identical 
way that attitudes are developed. All are affectively charged in 
relation to the stimuli. All are more or less lasting, all are ac- 
quired states of readiness determining the individual's character- 
istic reactions to the stimuli to which they are related. There are, 
of course, differences in the range of stimuli to which each of 
these forms of attitudes can be related, and there are differences 
in the intensity with which these different types of attitudes are 
displayed. There are also differences due to the conformity of 
these attitudes to objective conditions, as, for example, the differ- 
ence between the attitude of a biologist to the facts of biological 
evolution and the attitude of an uneducated Baptist to the same 
facts. We repeat, however, that all of these forms of attitudes 
follow essentially the sam^pattern in their development. 

As commonly used the term "set" is applied to a relatively 
restricted temporary attitude, or to momentary states of readiness; 
the word "stereotype" is applied to an intense and rigid attitude, 
while the word "prejudice" applies to an attitude still more rigid 
and intense and one generally based on false information. The 
term "opinion" is generally used to describe an attitude that is or 
has been expressed and that is based more on objective conditions 
than a "stereotype" or "prejudice." 

We are mentioning the fact that these terms are special cases of 
attitudes for a methodological reason. For some investigators use 
one particular term and deal with the problems surrounding it as 
if they were separate problems unrelated to the characteristics of 
attitude or the conditions which develop attitudes. We strongly 
believe that we shall gain much if we unify the concepts which 
can be really unified and if we do not use different concepts for 
the same problem. Following the rule of scientific parsimony, 
we shall try to restrict ourselves to as few concepts as necessary. 

In this chapter we have only cleared our way. We have tried 
to bring the problem of attitudes into clear focus. Because of the 


diverse and disconnected approaches made to the study of attitudes 
by psychologists and sociologists, some unification of the problem 
is called for. An understanding of attitudes, as well as an under- 
standing of values, demands a unification of the problem which 
remains the same problem whether handled by psychologists, 
sociologists, or any other social scientists. 


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29. WARREN, H. C. (cd.), Dictionary of Psychology, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 

copyright 1934. 

30. WATT, H. J., Experimentelle Beitrage zu einer Theorie des Denkens, 'Arch. /. d. 

ges. Psychol., 1904, 4, 289-436. 



Attitudes are inferred from the reactions (verbal or nonverbal) 
of man. When an individual reacts repeatedly in a characteristic 
way (positive or negative) in relation to a certain stimulus object, 
we infer that he has an established attitude toward that stimulus. 
When a group of individuals react repeatedly in a characteristic 
way to a stimulus situation, we infer that the members of the 
group have an established social attitude in relation to it. This 
characteristic reaction of groups of people is sometimes called 
"conforming behavior." These conformities are discriminatory 
or selective, as all attitudes are. This means that all attitudinal 
reactions are judgmental activities. It is, therefore, not a mere 
coincidence that social value judgments reveal themselves in the 
psychology of the individual as established attitudes. Whether 
these discriminative activities revealing attitudes are verbally ex- 
pressed as short-cut judgments of opinion or value, as in logic, or 
are expressed only in behavior does not matter a bit psychologically. 

As we said in the previous chapter, attitudes always imply a 
subject-object (stimulus-organism) relationship. Attitudes al- 
ways are related to some object, person, group, or standardized 
norm. This relationship is not innate, it is formed. In order for 
it to be formed, the individual first has to come into contact with 
the object (person, institution, norm). This is a perceptual situa- 
tion. Therefore, the first stage in the actual formation of an atti- 
tude is a perceptual stage, with the internal factors of the organism 
and external (objective) factors of the stimulus situation coming 
into play. 

The term "attitude" (used in everyday language to denote an 
established state of readiness) does not express any specific psy- 
chological mechanism. It is a composite term, especially useful 



to denote in an empirical way an important common ground be- 
tween psychologists and sociologists. When it is characterized 
psychologically and traced from the point of view of its formation, 
it becomes evident that the psychology of attitudes is intimately 
related to the psychology of perception and judgment. This is 
true, no matter what the motivational basis or diversity of content 
of an attitude may be. In the present approach towards the psy- 
chology of attitudes, we shall put our emphasis on perceptual and 
judgmental processes and see how far it can carry us. Here we 
do not need to take sides in favor of any learning theory. We 
have already pointed out that any final adequate psychology of 
attitude will someday be linked closely with the psychology of 
learning or conditioning, especially in accounting for the more 
or less enduring character and for the range of attitudes. 

General selectivity of perception. The objective world around 
us rivers, hills, trees, buildings, and the like is, of course, not 
affected by our perception of it. These objects are there objec- 
tively, determined by physical laws, whether or not we perceive 
or experience them. On the other hand, what we perceive of the 
natural and social world around us is highly selective, determined 
by biological and psychological laws. Because of this determinis- 
tic selectivity, men perceive or experience different aspects of the 
world around them. For example, in the Dark Ages, because of 
the fact that men were so confined to themselves owing to the 
prevailing social and cultural system in which they were living, 
they paid little attention to nature. [8] They needed, among 
others, a Rousseau, the rebellious child of the bourgeois system 
rising against the decaying feudal aristocracy and clergy, to call 
attention to his fellowmen that nature was around them in all its 
glory. Today, in India, for example, many people are so much 
preoccupied with their mystic ways, that they simply are not con- 
cerned and, therefore, do not notice the beauties of nature. We 
do not have to resort to any typologies to account for these facts, 
as Jung does, for example. [25] In a discussion of the "artist's 
frame of reference," F. H. Allport [1] has nicely pointed out that 
the meaning, the unity, the beauty seen in a picture are determined 
by a "psychological frame" and that the psychology of "frame of 
reference" "goes back to the simplest principles of human percep- 


tion." [5] At the basis of this selectivity is the bipolar nature of 
perception: the determination of perceptions by external and 
internal factors following certain laws, and the formation of 
certain enduring states of readiness. 

The selectivity of perception is a universal human phenomenon 
not confined to any special cases. As Woodworth puts it in de- 
veloping what he terms "situation set/' "the individual is not an 
unbiased registering instrument." [55] Anyone can easily cite 
numerous cases from daily experience to prove that what he ob- 
serves and notices around him is a selective matter: what he sees 
in a strange city, what he reads in his newspaper, and so on. It 
would be very useful to make longitudinal studies of perception 
also and find out through a period of time what actual items a 
person does perceive in his surroundings. Such longitudinal 
studies would certainly reveal the highly selective nature of our 
daily perceptions as determined by external and internal conditions. 

Experiments in the psychological laboratory require subjects, 
through carefully formulated "instructions," to observe precisely 
certain aspects of the stimulus presented and usually made focal 
for them in a controlled way. Already some representative labora- 
tory studies furnish evidence of the general selectivity of percep- 
tion. Here we refer to the long line of investigation started over 
40 years ago by Kiilpe when he ventured to study the psychology 
of the so<alled higher mental processes against the vigorous pro- 
tests of his former teacher, Wundt, who argued for the completion 
first of the "mental chemistry" of sensory processes. In Kiilpe's 
laboratory it became increasingly evident that the "set" assumed 
by the observer as a result of "instructions" was playing an im- 
portant role in determining response to the experimental situa- 
tion. Kiilpe himself specifically undertook the study of this 
problem. [30] In his experiments he tachistoscopically presented 
different stimuli, such as printed syllables, about which different as- 
pects or "dimensions" could be reported, for example, the number 
of letters involved, the locations of the colors, or the total pattern 
composed by them. Kiilpe found that more items were noted 
and more correct judgments made by the observer about that 
aspect of the stimuli which had been emphasized by the "set" 
produced as a consequence of the initial instructions; subjects 


noticed more fully and in more detail those aspects of the stimulus 
field they were set to observe. Two decades later Yokoyama and 
then Chapman verified Kiilpe's results. [6, 9] 

In the Kiilpe line of experiments, the "set" is produced by the 
instructions of the experimenter. But the internal factors ("set" 
in this case) need not always be due to instructional set. In more 
natural settings some motivational stress, some social pressure, or 
some established norm in the individual may and does produce 
the "set" or "attitude" with which the stimulus field is observed. 
Take, for example, the case of the hungry man looking for bread 
or the case of a lover waiting in a crowd for his sweetheart. 
Cantril has pointed out that 

The literature of experimental psychology is filled with research 
which demonstrates conclusively that a frame of reference is an in- 
evitable accompaniment of any series of judgments a person may be 
asked to make; and that when the situation is unique and specific, as 
it is frequently deliberately designed to be in the laboratory, the frame 
of reference is a function of the relationships discerned between the 
series of stimuli. No matter how hard the experimentalist, especially 
the psychophysicist, may try to work on the peripheral level of judg- 
ments and side-step central issues, he finds it almost impossible to 
avoid in the laboratory the phenomenon we are describing that oc- 
curs so constantly in judgments of everyday life. [7, 24] 

In his impressive series of experiments carried out over a period 
of years (1913-32), Bartlett obtained a well-integrated series of 
results on remembering. [2] This classical work breaks down 
the artificial classificatory boundaries imposed between the func- 
tions of perceiving, remembering, and even imagining. Bartlett 
unanswerably demonstrated that the perceiving, imagining, and 
remembering of even relatively simple objects are selective 
influenced in an important way by such factors as the interests, 
attitudes, temperament, of the observer. He makes his experi- 
ments on perceiving the starting point of experiments on remem- 
bering, indicating a functional continuity between perception and 
memory. In the experiments on perceiving [2, 14-33] he pre- 
sented to his observers simple designs and patterns, and complex 
pictorial material. His instructions were neutral; that is, he did 
not try to produce a "set" or "attitude" in the observers in relation 


to any given aspect of the stimulus field; in fact, he was especially 
on his guard "against the use of suggestion other than that con- 
veyed by the material itself." [17 f.] His results and conclusions 
are clear-cut. In his own words: 

Very rarely indeed did a subject thus differentiate clearly between 
a sensory image set up by the stimulating object and his interpretation 
of the object itself. But, though they did not realize it, the observers 
were throughout constantly utilizing an imaged setting, or bac\- 
ground, for their perceptual reactions. [2, 30, italics ours] 


... to perceive anything is one of the simplest and most immediate, 
as it is one of the most fundamental, of all human cognitive reactions. 
Yet obviously, in a psychological sense, it is exceedingly complex, and 
this is widely recognized. Inextricably mingled with it are imaging, 
valuing, and those beginnings of judging which are involved in the 
response to plan t order of arrangement and construction of presented 
material. It is directed by interest and by feeling, and may be domi- 
nated by certain crucial features of the objects and scenes dealt with. 
[2, 31, italics ours] 

The more unstructured and vague the stimulus field is, the more 
important is the role of set and other factors not inherent in the 
stimulus itself. In one of a series of experiments utilizing the auto- 
kinetic phenomenon, Sherif instructed his subjects that the light 
(which was physically stationary, of course) would move to the 
right or to the left as the case may be. [41] The subjects with the 
"set" produced by the instructions gave results generally in har- 
mony with the instructed direction. Proshansky and Murphy 
[38] used the autokinetic condition as one of three types of un- 
structured stimuli (lines and weights were also used) in a test of 
the hypothesis that "perception develops positively in the direction 
of reward." [296] Although their "experimental subjects showed 
. . . significant shifts in estimates of lines and weights in the 
direction of the percepts which had been rewarded," [305] this 
conclusion could not be drawn from the autokinetic data. The 
authors arc careful to point out, however, that "with the auto- 
kinetic effect, it was found during the course of the experiment 
that a major source of error was operating." [302] "Such large 


and uncontrolled autokinetic effects appeared in the training 
series as to vitiate the post-training data." [305] More recently 
Haggard and Rose, utilizing the autokinetic technique with a 
device of reward or punishment instead of direct instruction of 
movement, obtained results similar to Sherif s. [18] 

From the facts, of which the foregoing are typical examples, it 
is plausible to conclude in a general way that the selectivity of 
attitudes is basically imbedded in the selectivity of perception. 
But this gives us only our general orientation. We must proceed 
further and try to single out more precisely the processes involved 
in the formation of an attitude. 

A frame of reference is involved in perceptual and judgmental 
activity. It is an established fact in psychology that stimuli do not 
have an absolute stimulating value. A stimulus is experienced, 
perceived, judged, and reacted to in relation to other stimuli, pres- 
ent or past, to which it is functionally related. In perception this 
relative character of a stimulus emerges from its relationship in 
the organized whole [29]; in judgments, from its relationship to 
other stimuli (present and past) which are operative at the mo- 
ment. The concept of "member character" expresses the relative 
nature of the properties of any stimulus to which the organism is 
responding at the moment and can be conveniently used to denote 
the relative character of any stimulating agent with respect to 
simultaneous or preceding stimuli with which it is functionally 

The term "frame of reference" is simply used to denote the 
functionally related factors (present and past) which operate at 
the moment to determine the particular properties of a psycho- 
logical phenomenon (such as perception, judgment, affectivity). 
In 1935 and 1936 Sherif brought together a good many experi- 
mental facts from various major psychological phenomena (in- 
cluding perception, judgment, affectivity, memory, personality) 
indicating the way in which a "frame of reference" is involved in 
each of them. [41, 42] The scale of magnitudes against which 
subsequent stimuli of a similar kind are judged, the organized 
perceptual whole which determines the particular relative proper- 
ties of its parts, the established social status in relation to which 
responses to other individuals and groups are shaped are all specific 


cases of frames of reference. Unless we have good reasons to argue 
that frames of reference involved in various psychological phe- 
nomena have nothing to do with one another, but express psycho- 
logical tendencies quite different in nature, such a general concept 
is needed to denote this whole background of factors which to- 
gether determine the relative nature of response. Because frames 
of reference are involved in all major phenomena, a more precise 
definition of frame of reference cannot be formulated until we 
know more about the frames of reference in various specific cases. 

Specific cases of frames of reference are most extensively elabo- 
rated in the fields of perception and judgment. Gestalt psycholo- 
gists worked out in detail the psychology of perceptual frames. 
In fact, the whole emphasis of frames of reference in psychology 
is mainly derived from them. All our time and space localiza- 
tions, magnitude perceptions, form perceptions, perceptions of 
melody and harmony are referential affairs. When we say "up" 
we mean "up" in relation to something below, when we say "far" 
or "near" we say so in relation to a starting point we have in mind. 

With the shifts of the reference frames or points, perceptual 
relationships are altered. Thus: 

A book is small and a man is large. But if a house is large, then a 
man is small. And if a book is small and a house is large, then a man 
is of medium size. [36, 43] 

Years ago Wertheimer demonstrated that a line is experienced as 
horizontal or vertical in reference to the position of other things 
in the field of stimulation: if the observer's visual field is slanted 
by means of a mirror, a similarly slanted object tends to appear 
vertical, indicating that the position of an object is perceived in its 
relation to the whole organized field. [53] 

In our opinion, the psychology of these perceptual frames are 
basically related to the psychology of attitudes. The forms, pro- 
portions, and magnitudes of things, buildings, tools, and the like, 
in the village, town, or city we live in become for us in time 
established anchorages. When, subsequently, in some other town 
or country we face different proportions, forms, and magnitude? 
of things, we perceive them against the whole background of our 
established frames or anchorages. Consequently they seem to us 


to be too large, too small, queer, or disproportionate as the case 
may be. 

Extensive evidence of the referential nature of judgmental activi- 
ties has accumulated during the past decade. As we shall see later, 
the implications of this important finding can be carried on to 
more or less complicated social problems. Chapman and Volk- 
mann, for example, in a significant study on "A Social Deter- 
minant of the Level of Aspiration" start with the general principle 
that "the conditions which govern the setting of a level of aspira- 
tion (Anspruchsniveau), in the sense of an estimate of one's future 
performance in a given task, may be regarded as a special case of 
the effect upon a judgment of the frame of reference within 
which it is executed." [10, 225] They draw attention to the "gen- 
eral fact that all judgmental activities take place within such 
referential frameworks." [225] Convenient and concise sum- 
maries and discussions of the studies on judgment are found in the 
reports of Long [31], Rogers [39], and McGarvey [34]. If we 
start with Hollingworth's work on judgment, it becomes increas- 
ingly evident that judgment to a stimulus in a series is based on 
the whole background of previous judgments belonging to the 
series and affected by them in definite ways. [21, 22] For our 
present problem, the important fact is that judgments of stimuli 
shift according to the background furnished by a related series of 
stimuli; the particular directions of these shifts need not concern 
our position in this chapter. Here it is sufficient for us to call 
attention briefly to certain aspects of Long's and Rogers' represent- 
ative studies as they bear on our present problem. 

Long studied the effect of preceding stimuli upon the judgments 
of succeeding stimuli, using series of auditory intensities. Among 
other things he found that 

Under certain conditions, stimuli oppose each other in such a way 
that a weak stimulus preceded by a strong one is judged weaker than 
it actually is, and vice versa. This is referred to as contrast and its 
presence has been found in experiments employing a variety of stimuli: 
namely, tones and weights in the usual psychophysical experiments; 
and colors, tones, and odors in experiments on hedonic tones. Thus 
the reality of the phenomenon cannot be doubted, but an explanation 
of why contrast operates or what processes (either psychological or 


physiological) underlie it, must be postponed until the conditions 
under which it occurs, or does not occur, are better known. [31, 55] 

The studies on judgment with the method of single stimuli that 
have accumulated during the past 15 years furnish unequivocal 
evidence in support of the relativity of judgment. In an increasing 
number of studies in different sense modalities, it has been shown 
that the use of a standard stimulus is not necessary for the observer 
to give a judgment about any stimulus in the series. After a few 
rounds of presentation of the series, observers spontaneously estab- 
lish a scale without being instructed to do so. Any stimulus in 
the series is judged or placed in its relative position in the scale. 
These experiments in Which no standard stimulus is used yield a 
distribution of frequencies of judgment very similar to that ob- 
tained by orthodox psychophysical methods using a formal stand- 
ard. [37] 

Here again we see the same referential nature of response 
observed in cases of perception. With the shifts of the reference 
frame or scale to which any stimulus is related, a corresponding 
shift in judging that stimulus results. Wever and Zener [54] 
gave an observer a "light" series of weights, and after this series 
had become an "established" scale for the observer they suddenly 
introduced a "heavy" series. 

The effect of the first series on the judgments of the second was 
quite evident for 20 or 25 presentations, i.e. for four or five rounds 
judgments of "heavy" predominated for all the stimuli; from this 
point on, however, the judgments showed a redistribution conforming 
to the second stimulus-series. [54, 476, italics ours] 

On the basis of these facts, we may say that the members of a 
series of stimuli manifest "member-character" just as parts of an 
organized perceptual field manifest "member-character," revealing 
"supra-local" qualities from the functional relationship in which 
they are found. The member-character of the stimuli in a series 
is clearly shown in a keen observation of Wedell in his study of 
pitch discriminations. . 

It has been said that no judgment is "absolute" unless a long time, 
say 12 hours, has intervened since the last hearing of a tone. Follow- 
ing this line of reasoning in the present experiment, the only absolute 


judgment would be the first one each day. It must be admitted that 
there is some basis for this assertion, because some of the subjects 
seemed to compare the notes with one another deliberately. In addi- 
tion to this, a subject would sometimes correct a previous judgment 
by saying, "Oh, that other one must have been [so and so]." [51, 497, 
italics ours] 

Psychophysical studies dispensing with the presentation of a 
formal standard stimulus with every variable stimulus in the series 
were first started by Wever and Zener. [54] Because no standard 
was used, and each stimulus was presented singly, the method was 
designated as the method of "single" or "absolute stimuli/' and the 
series of stimulus values as "absolute series." Now it is often 
referred to as "absolute scale" and the judgments obtained as 
"absolute" judgments. It is clear that the term "absolute" refers 
to the method alone. "Absolute" does not refer to judgments or 
their distribution. The real psychological fact shown in all these 
experiments is that judgments to subsequent stimuli are relative 
to preceding stimuli of a similar nature. Referring to the general- 
ity of this psychological tendency, McGarvey states in her survey 
of literature in 1943 that 

The relativity of judgments of lifted weights, tonal pitches, visual 
inclinations, etc., is paralleled by the relativitv of affective judgments. 
[34, 14] 

It is an unfortunate accident to have the term "absolute" 
connected with a whole array of facts which definitely reveal the 
relativity of judgment, perception, and, in a word, experience in 
general. As the term "absolute" is used in a contradictory way to 
designate the relative nature of a general psychological tendency, 
there is bound to appear a contradiction of terms. Thus Cohen, 
in a study following Beebe-Center's research showing the relativity 
of hedonic judgments, uses the contradictory title "The Relativity 
of Absolute Judgments." [12] The same contradiction of terms 
is found in a more recent study by Postman and Miller showing 
the relative nature of temporal judgments. The authors state: 

An "absolute" judgment of magnitude is, of course, not strictly 
absolute, but is formed in relation to other magnitudes that lie within 
the immediate universe of attention. [36, 43] 



Such subjective scales have been called absolute scales and perhaps 
the term is no more contradictory than the term absolute judgment. 
Absolute, in these contexts, means relative to the comparable magni- 
tudes that form the immediate context of the judgment. [36, 43, the 
last emphasis is ours] 

To designate a tendency by a contradictory term does not help to 
clarify but only to confuse the issues in question. It may astound 
people to see that psychologists designate the same thing as both 
"absolute" and "relative." 

It seems to us that nothing is gained by stretching the term 
"absolute judgment" and "absolute scale" (already used in a con- 
tradictory way by the mere accident of naming a method) to study 
the relative nature of response in perceptual and social fields. The 
relative nature of response in sensory judgments is only a specific 
case of a more general tendency. For example, contrast and as- 
similation effects which necessarily appear in judgments, are not 
effects peculiar to judgments alone. Assimilation and contrast 
effects result from simultaneous stimulation (perception) as well 
as from successive stimulation, as can be easily found by con- 
sulting any psychology textbook. Not only are contrast and 
assimilation effects simultaneous as well as successive but also 
they are different according to the place they occupy in the figure 
or ground of a perceptual relationship. [4] In view of these facts, 
appropriate specific terms should be used to designate specific cases 
of reference frames appearing in other major fields of psychology. 
For example, "aspiration level" and "ego level" may be used as 
such referential terms in cases dealing with the experiences of 
success, failure, and status, as Hoppe [23], Frank [16], Gould 
[17], and others have done. 

In this connection, Rogers' significant study dealing with the 
anchoring effect of a preceding stimulus of constant value on a 
scale of stimuli is pertinent. His formulation is aptly offered "as 
an experimental contribution to the understanding of the frame 
of reference." [39] His study is based on a previous investigation 
reported by Volkmann in 1936. [48] Volkmann obtained judg- 
ments on a series of visual inclinations, using the method of 


single stimuli. In the first experiment an "instructed" position 
(horizontal) was used as a reference point. As a consequence, the 
scale shifted and extended considerably in the direction of the 
horizontal. The second experiment demonstrated that in a simi- 
lar manner any value which the observer selected and held in 
mind could exert an appreciable shift in the scale. 

In the first part of his study Rogers discusses frame of reference 
and "absolute scale." He almost characterizes the "mental forma- 
tion," labeled "absolute scale" in an inconsistent way, as a special 
case of frame of reference. ("Mental formation" was originally 
used by Wever and Zener to designate the psychological scale 
[frame] formed after some rounds of presentation of the stimulus 
series in these psychophysical experiments.) Rogers states: 

While it might be argued that the absolute scale, in this event, con- 
stitutes a frame of reference accessible to experimental manipulation 
and investigation, a slightly different view is to be taken here. The 
frame of reference, it would seem, may most reasonably be seen as the 
product of a number of influences, notably the influences of stimuli 
which cannot all be present at any one time. [39, 6] 

This is true in a general way, but not quite, because the influence 
of past stimuli, not present at the time, may be operative on an 
"absolute" scale as well as on any other specific case of a reference 
frame. For example, in building up a mental scale ("absolute 
scale") using the method of single stimuli, a previously established 
scale or anchorage even from daily life may come in to modify 
present judgments. The operation of a frame of reference or a 
mental scale as a specific case of a frame of reference is detected 
from the observable determinations or modifications of reported 
judgments and perceptions. This fact is clearly noted by Rogers: 

The frame of reference, then, is inaccessible except in terms of overt 
responses which it governs. [39, 6] 

In the experiments which Rogers conducted, he used the method 
of single stimuli. His stimulus series consisted of a scale of visual 
inclinations (in the first experiment) and a scale of weights (in 
the second experiment). In Rogers' first sessions the usual dis- 
tributions of judgments were obtained, and the usual scales (or 
frames) were established psychologically. In subsequent sessions, 


"an anchoring stimulus" was presented just prior to each presen- 
tation of a stimulus to be judged and was designated as the top 
category of the series. The anchoring stimulus, at first the same 
as the highest stimulus of the range, "was moved progressively 
further above the stimulus range, remaining always the same 
throughout any single session." This means that the most fre- 
quently presented stimulus was the anchoring stimulus: to be pre- 
cise, the anchoring stimulus was presented as many times as the 
total number of presentations of all the stimuli of the series. In a 
few cases, the values of the anchoring stimuli used were within the 
upper part of the stimulus range. Rogers' results obtained from 
both kinds of stimuli (visual inclinations and weights) are similar. 
The anchoring or reference point, experimentally introduced, 
produces changes in the scale and in the category thresholds within 
the scale. As the anchoring point moves further from the range, 
it expands the scale to a certain point, and as it is carried down 
into the range it causes the scale to shrink. Briefly stated, the scale 
(frame) expands, to a certain point, or shrinks, but in both cases 
it is assimilated to the shifts of the anchoring stimulus. 

Rogers' investigations constitute a significant contribution to the 
systematic experimental study of frames and points of reference 
and to the nature of their mutual interdependence. Our daily 
perceptions, experiences, relationships with other individuals are 
structured or altered to an important degree by the conscious or 
unconscious use of intruded anchorages of a social or nonsocial 
nature. Thus when we say "early," "late," we say them in relation 
to certain reference points, for example, the time of the departure 
of a train, an appointment, lunch time. In social life, we shift our 
judgments, decisions, and human relationships by self-imposed or 
socially given intrusions of value judgments which serve us as 
anchorages. In his work on remembering, Bartlett gives vivid 
illustrations of how the names of things used at the moment serve 
as anchorages in relation to which perceptions and memories are 
structured or altered. 

A recent study by Tresselt [45] is of special importance for us 
in this connection, because it provides a strict laboratory demon- 
stration of the fact that the better an anchorage is learned (even 
to the extent of being overlearned), the more pronounced is the 


tendency for that anchorage to effect subsequent judgments. 
Tresselt set out "to determine the effect of experimentally pro- 
duced variations in the amount of past experience (with stimulus- 
objects similar to the objects to be used as the new task of judg- 
ment) upon the speed of agreement with the center of the 
stimulus-scale." She used a series of 12 weights, ranging from 11 
to 560 grams. Six groups of subjects participated in the experi- 
ment. Group I was given one practice trial on each of the four 
heaviest weights; group II was given 4 trials on each of the heavi- 
est weights; group III was given 8 trials; group IV 12; group V 
28; and group VI 12 practice trials on the four lightest weights. 
As usual in such experiments, Tresselt found that 

By the time the subjects have lifted approximately six weights re- 
gardless of the amount of previous experience or kind of previous 
experience, the judgments are less widely distributed and it might be 
said that the subjects have come to show a greater degree of conformity 
about what shall be called "medium." [45] 

But she continues: 

The larger the period of practice, the more slowly does the scale of 
judgment shift to its new position. [45, italics ours] 

The more well-established an anchorage is, the better it is learned, 
then the more lasting is its influence likely to be. 

The shifts and other effects brought about by the introduction 
of anchorages into a situation (anchorages lying within or without 
the structure) are demonstrated by facts accumulating almost since 
the beginnings of experimental psychology. Thus, Henri, work- 
ing on skin localizations in 1892-97, found that shifts of localiza- 
tions always "are committed in the direction of the points of 
reference (points de reptre)" and corresponding shifts took place 
with shifts of reference points. [20] What Henri called reference 
points (points de reptrc) in 1895 were designated "anchoring 
points" by Koffka in 1922 [27], "anchoring agents" by Volkmann 
in 1936 [48], and "anchoring points" by Rogers in 1941 [39] in 
studying the same effects. 

Before proceeding to our next step the experimental formation 
of an attitude we shall bring together the main points reached so 


far. The first stage in the formation of an attitude is a perceptual 
stage. Because of this and because of the discriminative nature of 
attitudes they ate closely linked to the psychology of perception 
and judgment. The laboratory studies on one hand and historical 
and empirical facts of everyday life on the other reveal that per- 
ceptions are selective. Perceptual and judgmental activities take 
place in referential frameworks. As a consequence of facing re- 
peatedly the proportions, forms, or perceptual objects, scales of 
magnitudes (both in a physical and a social sense), these scales 
and magnitudes form frames of reference in the individual which 
serve as bases by which subsequent situations are perceived and 
judged. They need not be consciously formed, deliberately in- 
structed, or imposed by others. Once formed they act as anchor- 
ages to determine or alter an individual's reactions to subsequent 
situations. In this fact is imbedded the basic psychology of an 

And lest we be accused of too much subjectivity, it should be 
mentioned in passing that experiments concerning the referential 
nature of judgments involving manual tasks are entirely feasible. 
For example, Tresselt reports that in her experiment with Volk- 
mann involving lifted weights they gathered data which "show 
that one subject who worked in a steel plant held the weights to 
be light or medium for the first eight judgments while a college 
professor held all the weights to be heavy or medium, except one, 
the very lightest." [45] Proshansky and Murphy have pointed 
out that "the unity of the organism would suggest . . . that what- 
ever principles are of value in the understanding of the laws of 
motor response are of some pertinence in understanding the laws 
of perception." [38, 295] 


We shall first consider frames of reference in relation to struc- 
tured stimulus situations, beginning with the most clear-cut cases 
of perception. When the stimulus field is well-structured, the 
grouping or organization that follows gives rise to perceptions of 
forms, magnitudes, melodies, rhythms, proportions, relationships, 


localizations, and so on, that correspond, in general, to the proper- 
ties of the objective situations: the perception of a circle, a square, 
an appropriately grouped succession of tones typifj? these situations. 
In such cases the structure of the psychological frame will cor- 
respond closely to the structure of the external field of stimulation, 
the figure-ground relationship being determined by the compel- 
ling features and salient reference points of the objective situation. 
The properties of the different parts are determined by their func- 
tional relationship in the structure. This is expressed as the mem- 
ber-character of the parts. Factors in the objective field of stimula- 
tion (such as proximity and similarity) with such compelling 
features have been studied extensively since the outstanding work 
of Wertheimer. [52] This member-character relationship holds 
true with successive stimulation as is the case in the perception of 
melody as well as with simultaneous stimulation. As we have 
seen, this seems to be true in the case of judgments as well as of 

Well-structured objects or magnitudes have similar effects in 
our daily life reactions, as we have already noted. An individual, 
wherever he may be, is surrounded by buildings, tools, furniture, 
magnitudes, timetables, schedules, or innumerable other types of 
well-structured stimulus situations of one kind or another. He is 
stimulated by them repeatedly. As a consequence, the particular 
structures, magnitudes, and relationships become the established 
scales or frames in him. This objective determination, by existing 
magnitudes, scales, relationships, of lasting scales or frames in 
individuals implies the establishment of lasting norms. These 
norms, verbalized or nonverbalized in explicit judgments, are fun- 
damental in shaping the mentalities of individuals living in any 
social system. They are, in fact, at least as important in shaping 
the mentality of members of a society as value judgments, beliefs, 
or the whole superstructure of culture. Spiritually inclined culture 
apologists have tended to ignore or minimize the effects of this 
basic field of determination. 

Now we shall consider frames of reference in relation to un- 
structured stimulus situations. We have ample evidence that in 
cases where the stimulus situation is not well-structured the result- 
ing psychological experience is by no means always chaos or an 


inconsistent hodgepodge of reactions. It seems that a tendency to 
organize and group stimuli is a primary psychological fact based, 
of course, on underlying properties of the nervous system which 
competent physiologists will no doubt someday explain. Even in 
cases where the stimulus field is not well-structured and does not 
have the properties necessary to impose objectively clear-cut non- 
reversible figure-ground relationships, there is usually some sort of 
organization. For example, campers in a forest on a dark night 
are apt to see or hear different things around them as determined 
by their individual attitudes or preoccupations. But in such cases, 
internal factors are important in determining the properties of the 
resulting organizations. 

The margin of possibilities for the contribution of internal fac- 
tors allowed by unstructured situations is at the basis of many 
studies dealing with the problem of individual peculiarities, per- 
sonality differences, abnormal tendencies, and the like. We find 
here the basis of the projective devices currently flourishing. The 
use of unstructured ink blots for detecting characteristics of the 
individual was suggested and used by G. V. Dearborn back in the 
end of the 19th century. [13, 14] Others soon followed him. 
Bartlett used a series of ink blots in his studies on remembering. 
The recent extensive systematic uses of projective methods based 
on the Rorschach ink blots or Murray's thematic apperception test 
are well known. [26, 35] Voth recently studied personality differ- 
ences "as expressed through various forms and amount of auto- 
kinetic perception" using autokinesis as an unstructured unstable 
stimulus. [49] In more recent studies, Voth has used the auto- 
kinetic phenomenon as an index to pathological tendencies and 
has found fairly high correlations between indices thus obtained 
from his patients and medical diagnosis. [50] 

Gradations of structure in the stimulus field. We have con- 
sidered cases of structured and unstructured stimulus situations: 
in the former cases the resulting psychological outcome is com- 
pellingly determined by the objective situation, in the latter cases 
a variety of internal or subjective factors come into play to shape 
response. Actually, of course, there are all kinds of gradations 
between these two extremes of structuration. 

Recently Luchins used gradations of structure or ambiguity in 


a series of studies on the social influences involved in the percep- 
tion of complex drawings. [33] The conclusion that can be drawn 
from these studies is that the effects of social influence (the various 
devices of suggestion used in the experiment) vary with the de- 
gree of ambiguity of stimuli presented. The greater the ambiguity 
of the stimulus, the greater is the effect of attempted social influ- 
ence. In a previous study in which the stimulus gradations were 
too few and too abrupt to allow the possibility of graded compari- 
sons, Luchins seems to reach a similar conclusion: 

Whether or not subjects were influenced by A's judgment ["A" 
being the influencing subject in the experiment] seemed to depend on 
the obviousness of the correct answer, i.e., the clarity of the judgment- 
situation, on the truth or falsity of A's judgment, and also on the 
subjects' attitudes to and interpretations of their task and the experi- 
mental situation. [32, 110, italics ours] 

Coffin designed an experiment to study the relationship of 
suggestibility to the ambiguity of a stimulus situation. The tonal 
attributes of pitch, volume, and a fictitious attribute created for 
the experiment and labeled "orthosonority" were used as the three 
tonal attributes varying in ambiguity. Subjects were given a tonal 
stimulus and then, after each tonal dimension had been defined, 
were told to equate the succeeding tone heard through their head- 
phones with the original stimulus by turning the appropriate dial 
which was ostentatiously labeled. Subjects were divided into ex- 
perimental and controlled groups. Results showed that the least 
ambiguous tonal attribute, pitch, was in most cases not subject to 
change by suggestion. Volume, on the other hand, could be 
reversed by suggestion with most observers, while judgments of 
"orthosonority" invariably followed the experimenter's suggestion. 
In other words suggestibility to these attributes increases with their 
ambiguity. [11] 

In a study dealing with social determinants of the level of 
aspiration Chapman and Volkmann produced changes in the 
standards of their subjects by introducing into the situation a 
hierarchy of standards the truth or falsity of which could not be 
objectively tested by the subjects. But in a subsequent experiment, 
after the subjects had considerable experience with the task at 


hand, the introduction of new standards did not shift the standards 
of the subjects. With such results in mind, Chapman and Volk- 
mann state that "the lability of the judgment, for example, varies 
inversely with the determinateness of the frame of reference." 
[10, 225] As we shall see later, Asch and his associates got similar 
results. CantriFs studies of a panic situation and various social 
movements substantiate the implications of these results on a 
highly complicated level, [p. 81 /.] Although research is still scanty 
which deals directly with the comparative effects on perception 
and judgment of gradations of structuration in the stimulus field, 
from the meager results obtained thus far we may formulate as a 
working hypothesis that, all other things being equal, the role 
played by internal and social factors decreases with the stability, 
clarity, or structuredness of the stimulus situation and with the 
strength of frames or points of reference already established. 

As we have remarked in the foregoing, material objects, techno- 
logical and other products of human labor, have a compelling 
effect in producing corresponding frames in the psychology of 
men. If the actual truth of all man's individual and social relation- 
ships were compellingly imposed on him in daily life, then he 
would not have any lasting and organized false attitudes. But he 
actually does have false attitudes about things, especially those he 
has never seen for himself or closely scrutinized. He has definite 
attitudes about gods, about life hereafter, and imposed attitudes 
concerning peoples about whom he really knows nothing. 

As formulations and standards have been achieved in science 
through the laborious and not infrequently persecuted labors of 
scientific workers such as Galileo, science has changed and cor- 
rected many obsolete "survival" social norms and corresponding 
attitudes. False norms and practices connected with natural events 
have been corrected and have yielded their place to scientific for- 
mulations in the modern world, although there are exceptions 
such as the norms of Christian Science. However, in social and 
economic relationships and in the whole superstructure of norms 
determined by them, many survivals remain. Until social systems 
base their premises and practices on strictly scientific grounds, 
"survival" norms and attitudes filtering down from different his- 
torical periods and outmoded systems will continue to function. 


The social system that erects itself on a scientific basis is still the 
exception rather than the rule. In view of this fact, the psycholo- 
gist renders a real service when he takes a realistic stand and 
studies human nature and social systems as they really are, rather 
than basing his arguments on the inherent goodness or evil of 
man or the will to truth as Hobbes and Rousseau did in their 
times and as the advocates of an unchanging "human nature" are 
doing today. The more various interest groups strive to perpetuate 
obsolete superstructures of norms, the more important it is to study 
social organization objectively. Many a historian and social sci- 
entist has observed that unstable, ambiguous, and critical situations 
are those which provide especially fertile soil for the formation and 
inculcation of social norms. 1 

In the following paragraphs we shall try to typify experiment-, 
ally the basic psychological processes involved in the formation of 
frames in unstructured situations. Admittedly, the studies are 
carried on in artificial and miniature laboratory situations. In 
presenting them we claim only that they are a starting point for 
conceptualization, the validity of which will be tested out with 
more concrete social material in actual situations. 

Formation of a frame in an unstructured situation? In line 
with the previous discussion, the psychologist must find an un- 
stable unstructured stimulus situation, present it repeatedly to the 
individual to see if he will structure it somehow to a framework 
of response proceeding with the hypothesis that psychological 
organization or grouping is a primary fact in unstructured as well 
as in structured situations. And if stimuli are organized by the 
individual, then the further question is, will they be organized by 
the members of a group collectively, and will members of a group 

1 It might be pointed out here that no realistic purpose is served by conducting 
experiments of the type in which the attempt is made, by introducing various 
social influences, to have a subject perceive a perfect square as a circle, or a line 
two inches long as longer than a line four inches long. In such obvious cases, no 
problem is involved, and nothing is gained by declaring as a conclusion in the 
face of such a compelling stimulus determination, "Ah ha, people cannot be 
influenced to perceive a square as a circle; thus they reveal their inherent will to 

2 When not otherwise specified, the results to be summarized here refer to 
Sherif. [41, 42] These references may be consulted for the detailed description 
of the experimental situation, procedure, subjects, instructions, and so on. 


eventually form a frame peculiar to the group? This query lies 
at the basis of the psychology of what sociologists such as Durk- 
heim, drawing a sharp dichotomy between individual psychology 
and social psychology, argue so strongly concerning the supralocal, 
suis generis character of collective values or "representations" 
which emerge only as a consequence of collective behavior. [15] 

The autokinetic phenomenon is one of various experimental 
possibilities that conveniently lends itself to a test of frame forma- 
tion when the stimulus is unstructured. In a pitch-dark space a 
single point of light seems to move and to move in different 
directions. It seems to move because there is no frame of reference 
to give it a stable localization. With the introduction of other 
visible points or objects the point gains stability relative to these 
points, since all psychological localizations are relative affairs. 
Even the introduction of sounds in the vicinity of the point seems 
to affect its stability. 

The first experiment in the series studied the formation of a 
frame (or scale) in the individual alone, thus starting with the 
general psychology of frame formation. The stimulus light was 
presented briefly and successively one hundred times in each ex- 
perimental session. The time of exposure after the perceived move- 
ment started was the same in all presentations. This was true for 
all- sessions, individual and group. The observer was asked to 
report the extent of the perceived movement. The results un- 
equivocally indicate that, even though a scale and reference points 
are lacking in the objective situation, in the course of the experi- 
mental session individuals spontaneously form a frame and a 
central tendency (standard) which may differ from individual to 
individual in the absence of a compelling objective range of 
stimuli. In other words, in the absence of an objective scale 
(frame) and objective standard (reference point) each individual 
builds up a scale of his own and a standard within that scale. 
The range and reference point established by each individual is 
peculiar to himself when he is facing the situation alone. 

In the second part of this first experiment it was found that once 
a scale is established there is a tendency for the individual to pre- 
serve this scale in subsequent sessions (within a week in these 
experiments). The introspective data obtained furnish further 


evidence of the formation of a frame. Most typical examples of 
such introspection are: "Compared with previous distance"; "Judg- 
ments are all relative"; "Compared successive judgments"; "First 
estimate as standard." Although the subjects do form frames of 
reference of their own spontaneously without being instructed to 
do so, the lack of an objective frame of reference is experienced. 
The following introspections are typical: "Darkness left no guide 
for distance"; "Lack of visible neighboring objects"; "No fixed 
point from which to judge distance." 


We can now proceed to the consideration of attitudes in social 
situations. These situations range from laboratory experiments 
involving social factors (which we will consider here) to compli- 
cated social conditions of everyday life (to be taken up in the next 
chapter). In doing so, we should stress again our conviction that, 
in spite of the enormous variation in the content of attitudes, 
psychological principles of attitude formation are essentially the 
same, irrespective of what the attitude is concerned with. 

The first stage of attitude formation in the most complicated 
social situation as well as in a restricted laboratory experiment is 
a perceptual stage. The individual must somehow come into con- 
tact with the stimulus situation before any attitude is established. 
In strict laboratory situations this stimulus situation is generally 
neutral, and the frame of reference established lacks the vital 
affective and motivational properties so characteristic of social 
attitudes: in the laboratory experiment the stimuli may be a series 
of magnitudes, such as lines or weights or perceptual structures; 
in social life the stimuli may be a person, group, an expressed atti- 
tude or prejudice, a threat, or a value judgment (norm) of any 
kind. Some of these stimuli in social life may be relatively neutral, 
may have only a mild affective property, for example, the color of 
a dress, the shape of a house, the characterization of a city, while 
some may involve intense, sometimes even traumatic, experiences, 
for example, a girl whom one loves at first sight, a scolding 
received by a child for cheating, an announcement over the radio 
that the Japanese have bombed Pearl Harbor. 


In dealing with attitudes in social situations, then, we are deal- 
ing with stimulus situations rife with affective and motivational 
properties, with situations that frequently involve problems of the 
individual's status. It might be mentioned in passing that attitudes 
to situations involving affective properties seem to be more readily 
established (learned), just as Pavlov, Tolman, and others showed 
that conditioning was more effective under motivational stress. 
Whether the perceptual experience involves direct contact with an 
object, person, or group, or whether the perceptual experience 
involves the verbal transmission of a social norm by some short- 
cut value judgment makes no difference whatever as far as the 
basic psychological characteristics of attitude formation are con- 
cerned. Both the soldier who has had direct experience with the 
enemy and his sister back home who has been subjected to value 
judgments concerning the enemy can and often do develop vari- 
ous negative attitudes. It is therefore systematically useless to try 
to categorize attitudes according to their source or origin. This 
is, of course, not a denial of the specific properties of particular 
attitudes formed in specific situations. 

Experimental formation of a frame in group situations. This 
series of experiments was undertaken with the methodological 
conviction that the principles formulated and verified in general 
psychology are valid principles that operate when individuals par- 
ticipate in group action or in collective behavior. Results pro- 
duced by group interaction may be, and in fact are, different from 
those obtained when a person is alone. They may have all the 
earmarks of emergent products. Nevertheless, the psychological 
principles involved in the group situation are the same in opera- 
tion as those when an individual is not a member of a group. 
The emergence of new qualities is not a unique property of group 
action alone perceptions of forms, relationships, and melodies 
emerge as unique qualities not found in individual parts. This 
emergence of new qualities on different levels individual as well 
as collective levels has to be stressed constantly because of the 
sharp dichotomies drawn by certain schools of thought. For ex- 
ample, the dichotomy of psychology into experimental versus 
cultural made by the romantic German school represented by 
Spranger [44] portrays experimental (individual) psychology as 


atomistic and static, and cultural psychology as dynamic and 
meaningful with total qualities. Writers of the Durkheim school 
of spiritualistic sociology, for example, Blondel [5] and Halb- 
wachs [19], and Durkheim [15] himself, argue that new quali- 
ties emerge only in collective situations, whereas findings in psy- 
chology substantiate the view of dialectical materialism that 
emergence takes place in all levels physical, biological, psycho- 
logical and socioeconomic. In a recent study full of implications 
for further research in social psychology, Tresselt and Volkmann 
experimentally demonstrated the "production of uniform opinion 
by non-social stimulation." [47] These investigators express a 
general psychological fact when they state that "the mechanism for 
judging social stimuli is the same as the mechanism for judging 
non-social stimuli." [242] 

With this methodological concern in mind, we can turn to the 
results of Sherif's group experiments on autokinesis. In the group 
situations each subject reported his judgments aloud and naturally 
was heard by the other subjects in the group. He in turn heard 
their expressed judgments. No primacy effect was introduced 
into the situation. A special point was made in the wording of 
the instructions to the effect that subjects could report their judg- 
ments in any order in any presentation. A subject who gave his 
judgment first in a particular presentation, might be the last to 
report in the following presentation. The building up of a frame 
in group situations is a temporal affair established in the course 
of the experimental period the influence of expressed judgments 
is not restricted to judgments given at particular presentations. 

Some groups faced the autokinetic situation without any pre- 
vious individual experience. An equal number of groups faced it 
after the members had established their individual frames alone in 
individual experiments. The members of the groups who first 
took part directly in the group situation were therefore naive and 
neutral in relation to this unstructured ambiguous situation. 

The results are clear. When individuals as members of a group 
face the same unstable unstructured situation without any pre- 
viously established personal relationship among them, a scale 
(frame) and a standard (reference point) within that frame are 


established in the course of the experimental period. 8 When a 
member of the group faces the same situation subsequently done, 
after the frame is established in the group situation, he experi- 
ences the situation in terms of the frame established in the group 
situation as a consequence of group interactions. 

This result was verified by Asch and Wright in experiments 
performed in 1937. We give these results here in Asch's own pre- 
ferred terminology. 4 

The outstanding feature of the investigation of Sherif is the tend- 
ency of the subjects in the given experimental situation to reach 
mutual agreement. S. E. Asch and B. Wright undertook in a series of 
experiments to examine more closely the specific reasons for this 

Before proceeding with their experimental variations, they first 
repeated the main experiment of Sherif with four pairs of subjects. 
The arrangement of the experiment was as far as possible identical 
with that of Sherif. The main findings of Sherif were confirmed: 
a new norm (level of response) developed under the given conditions. 
However, the convergence proceeded along different paths in the 
different pairs of subjects. For example, some members exercised 
more influence on the direction than others. This finding is entirely 
consistent with the results of Sherif. [Variations of these experiments 
by Asch and Wright will be reported in their appropriate context 
later.] 8 

In Sherif 's experiments with autokinesis, when individuals first 
establish their frames and standards in individual sessions and are 

8 Here we shall not digress to indicate some interesting results which revealed 
the differential, relative contributions of individual members and which are im- 
portant for the psychology of personality. 

4 This is a summary statement of investigations, the full account of which will 
be reported in a forthcoming publication by Dr. S. Asch. The results reported 
here were personally communicated. 

5 More recently, in a series of studies dealing with "some social factors in judg- 
ment," Schonbar investigated modifications of judgments in "situations of medium 
and high structure," respectively. [40] From her results she concludes "our 
findings confirm and extend the conclusions arising from Sherif's work on the 
autokinetic phenomenon." [729] That the convergence she found in cases of high 
structure is almost identical to the convergence found in cases of medium structure 
is puzzling, in view of the differentiated results obtained with varied degrees of 
structure, and other factors by Asch, Lewis and Hertzman, Coffin, Chapman and 
Volkmann, Luchins, and Asch and Wright 


then brought into group situations, their judgments tend to con- 
verge. But the convergence is not so close as when they first work 
in the group situation. When an individual comes into a group 
situation, with his own established frames and standards, there is 
a tendency to stick to them to some extent: individuals bring into 
the situation their own established frames and are no longer naive 
in relation to the situation. [41, 31, 41; 42, 104] 

In one variation of these experiments, Asch and Wright gave 
contradictory instructions in the individual sessions by prescribing 
varying ranges of movement. 

Under these conditions of contradictory individual norms, no 
convergence developed in any of the pairs. Subsequent questioning 
revealed that fully one-half of the subjects did not realize that they 
were in contradiction with their partners. They interpreted the addi- 
tion of the integer 3 (or the dropping of the integer 3) as introduced 
for the sake of identifying each of the subjects in the dark room. The 
remaining subjects interpreted the existing difference in terms of such 
factors as differences of position with regard to the light, differences 
in eyesight, etc. 

This means that even following individual sessions, with pre- 
scribed contradictory instructions and contradictory standards and 
norms, half of the subjects converged. The addition or dropping 
of the integer "3" (which the subjects thought was introduced as 
an experimental device) accounts for statistical but not for psy- 
chological nonconvergence as explained by the subjects who "did 
not realize that they were in contradiction with their partners." 
In a more decisive variation aimed at the complete destruction 
of convergence, Asch and Wright performed the following experi- 
ment. In Asch's words: 

The aim of the following experiment was to alter in a decisive way 
the cognitive character of the situation. The subjects were informed 
in the individual session concerning the subjective nature of the auto- 
kinetic effect (each subject was paired in the present variation with a 
"planted" subject whose estimates differed considerably and consist- 
ently from the experimental subject's). There were ten subjects in 
this experiment. Under these conditions, five subjects showed no 
convergence effect whatsoever; the other five did depart significantly 
from their previous judgments and in the direction of the "planted" 


subject. To explain the two forms of reaction, the subjects were 
questioned at the conclusion of the investigation. According to the 
present results, it seems that the subjects who showed the convergence 
effect continued to think of the autokinetic phenomenon as objective 
and forgot the preceding instructions. Nevertheless, the change found 
in the first half of the group conclusively demonstrates how effective 
the alteration of the cognitive character of the situation can be. [italics 

In spite of the fact that the subjects were told beforehand that the 
light was not moving at all and in spite of their individually es- 
tablished norms before coming into the group situation, it is sur- 
prising that there was any degree of convergence at all. We do 
not know if the 50 per cent convergence attributed by Asch to 
forgetting is in line with current forgetting curves. The lapse of 
time between the individual and group sessions cannot be longer 
than a few days. 

Nevertheless the afore-mentioned variations which introduced 
into the situation various degrees of familiarity or objective knowl- 
edge of the situation account for the variations in the results 
obtained. They are in harmony with Sherifs results which 
showed that, once individual frames are established, convergence 
or agreement in subsequent group situations is decidedly affected 
by them. Likewise, the findings in these variations are in har- 
mony with the conclusions of Chapman and Volkmann that pre- 
vious familiarity with a situation prevents shifts in the direction 
of experimentally introduced standards or norms. Likewise, they 
are in harmony with the finding of Luchins that social influence 
varies, among other factors, with variations in structural clarity. 
And all are in harmony with the formulation reached in the 
previous section that the influence of internal and social factors 
increases directly with the increase of the unstructuredness or am- 
biguity of the situation, and decreases with the degree of the 
structuredness or unambiguity of frames and standards already 
established by an individual. 

Experimental inculcation of a frame. As we stressed previously, 
frames are formed in the individual in daily life corresponding to 
objects and norms around him which are compelling in their ob- 
jective structure. Quite frequently attitudes are formed as a direct 


consequence of short-cut verdicts or value judgments of grown-ups, 
teachers, and others around us. These value judgments may or 
may not be imbedded in the truth of actual relationships. We 
are concerned here with the psychological process involved in their 
acquisition. The formation of such a frame in a social situation 
has been experimentally demonstrated. The experiment was car- 
ried out by Sherif in the spring of 1936 at Columbia University 
again utilizing the autokinetic technique, [43] 

The specific problem in the experiment was to see whether 
"naive" subjects could be experimentally inculcated with varying 
ranges of prescribed frames and standards. Preliminary experi- 
mentation had shown that a partner in this situation (in this case 
a partner with considerable prestige) could influence the judg- 
ments of the other subject raise and lower them in his direction. 
When the "naive" subject was told exactly what had happened 
she became very disturbed, an indication that an individual can 
get emotionally upset by being so fooled. [92] 

In the main experiment there were seven groups of two mem- 
bers each. In each group, one member co-operated with the ex- 
perimenter by deliberately distributing his judgments around the 
range (scale) and a standard point within that range prescribed 
beforehand by the experimenter. The second member (desig- 
nated as the "naive" subject) was totally unfamiliar with the situa- 
tion. In each case the naive subject was not acquainted either 
with the experimenter or the co-operating subject. To be sure 
that the conformity was to the prescribed range and standard, a 
different range and a different standard were prescribed for each 
group. In order to avoid the factor of primacy, the co-operating 
subject was instructed to let the "naive" subject express his judg- 
ment first at least half the time. The first session was the group 
session with both the co-operating and "naive" subjects participat- 
ing. In the second session the "naive" subject was alone. 

The results indicate considerable convergence to the prescribed 
range (scale) and standard in the judgments of the "naive" sub- 
jects. The varying convergence in different subjects clearly indi- 
cates personality differences. The convergence of the judgments 
in the "alone" session, which took place the day following the 
group session, was, in general, even greater than that obtained in 


the group sessions. Introspections reveal that the subjects became 
conscious of the scale and standard formed during the course of 
the experiments: Five subjects out of seven reported in their writ- 
ten introspections at the end of the experiments that they were 
not influenced by the judgments of their partner. This clearly 
indicates that a social influence which continues even when the 
individual is alone need not be consciously experienced. Schonbar 
has recently obtained results which lead to the same conclu- 
sion. [40] 

It is a significant fact to find convergence greater, in the majority 
of cases, when the individual is acting alone. It is not a rare oc- 
currence in everyday life to react negatively or hesitatingly on 
some topic raised by some person while in his presence, but to 
respond positively when he is no longer in the situation. To yield 
easily is not a pleasant "ego" experience. 

This experiment embodies in itself the rudiments of the psy- 
chology of attitude formation: a scale (or frame) is formed under 
the influence of the verdicts of another individual in relation to 
a definite experimentally controlled stimulus situation. The scale 
(frame) is carried from one day to another, has to some extent an 
enduring quality which provides an individual with a state of 
readiness by means of which he reacts in a characteristic way to 
the same stimulus situation. Here we have the main earmarks 
of an attitude. We must admit at once that this formation lacks 
the affective quality of a real attitude. But we do not believe this 
at all invalidates our conceptualization. The investigations of 
Beebe-Center [3] and associates, Cohen [12], and Hunt and Volk- 
mann [24] all indicate that the mechanisms of affective judg- 
ments are not essentially different from those of other judgments. 
Besides, as we shall see, there is further evidence to support the 
general scheme so far presented. 


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The conceptual scheme offered here towards the psychology of 
attitudes may appear to be an "artifact'' based only on the results 
of laboratory experiments which have no counterparts in real life 
situations. So we turn now to some examples of more everyday 
life situations which seem to us to confirm the reality of our 
formulations. We cite here only a few of the many studies, rang- 
ing from relatively simple demonstrations to complex reactions 
of daily life, that confirm the conclusions reached in the more 
strictly laboratory settings. 1 

Irrespective of the particular way in which an individual ac- 
quires an attitude in social life, the literature of social psychology 
is rife with data which support the formulations reached from 
our survey of general psychology: that perception and judgment 
are selective and occur within a referential framework, that frames 
or points of reference are inevitably established if an individual 
repeatedly faces the same stimulus situation, that these frames and 
points of reference are by no means always confined to consciously 
accepted instructions or imposed norms but can become estab- 
lished without the individual's realization of it, and that once 
established these frames and points of reference serve as anchor- 
ages for perception and judgment. 

might incidentally call attention here to the fact that most experiments on 
fcumans in the psychological laboratory are social situations at least to the extent 
that they involve verbal material in the instructions given to subjects. The variety 
of possible meanings of stimulus situations persistently gives trouble since meanings 
so readily intrude themselves. [38, 76, 94] It is well known that a subject's "set" 
or "attitude" can profoundly affect his reactions in psychological experiments. 
It may also be remembered that Titchener, in trying to create the "proper" set, 
advocated the use of "trained observers." From our present vantage point these 
results obtained only from observers trained to rule out objective references seem 
highly artificial 


It should be pointed out that, whereas scales and frames are 
experimentally constructed in the laboratory, when we are deal- 
ing with concrete social material it is generally necessary to select 
some range of stimuli which is meaningful in the particular situa- 
tion we are concerned with. If some limits were not generally 
established by the social organization, it would be much more 
difficult than it is in actual practice to isolate the particular scale 
we may be interested in. But by and large, because of the rela- 
tivity of values or norms in a given milieu at a given time, it is 
feasible to construct scales that deal, for example, with attitudes 
toward different races, government regulations, religion, occupa- 
tional prestige. Likewise, everyday life judgments such as pre- 
dictions made concerning the outcome of social conflicts are gen- 
erally found to be made within a limited scalable range. [83] 

We have already mentioned the fact that attitudes concerned 
with a person's position or status in social life are ego-involved and 
that such ego-involved experiences have affective properties, (p. 21) 
Since many attitudes related to social situations are more or less 
enduring affective fixations, they acquire a special importance to 
the individual. They become major constituents of the ego. The 
relationship between these social attitudes and the ego structure 
and the bearing of this relationship to motivation are considered 
in the next chapter. The significant fact that most social attitudes 
are ego-involved should, however, be borne in mind in connection 
with the material reported here. 

In his series of experiments (one of which was referred to in the 
last chapter) Coffin investigated the psychology of suggestion as 
it was related both to attitudinal structure and to stimulus situa- 
tions. [31] In his first experiment Coffin studied the relationship 
between an individual's attitude and the type of propaganda to 
which he was particularly susceptible. He found (in the winter 
of 1939 and 1940) significant correlations between pro-Allied atti- 
tudes on the one hand and the acceptance of specially prepared 
pro-Allied propaganda on the other hand. Conversely, those with 
pro-German attitudes accepted pro-German propaganda to a sig- 
nificant degree. In a second experiment Coffin used the Rorschach 
ink blots as stimuli with little structuration. After his subjects 
had rank-ordered a list of ten occupations according to their so- 


cial standing, they were divided into two groups; each group was 
told the characteristic response given to the Rorschach ink blots 
by professional men, by business men, by skilled laborers, and by 
those on WPA, but the various characteristics were attributed to 
different occupations in the two experimental groups. The results 
clearly showed that, when these ambiguous stimuli were used, the 
subjects were highly influenced by the suggestions given which 
served as anchorages. They actively structured the imaginative 
situation according to the "characteristic reaction" to the blots of 
occupational groups they believed had high social standing. In 
a third experiment, testing the relationship between suggestibility 
and the difficulty of problem solution, Coffin found that, when 
mathematical problems were arranged in order of difficulty with 
marginal (and usually false) hints (anchorages) beside each prob- 
lem as to what procedure might be used in its solution, respondents 
more highly trained in mathematics followed the marginal sug- 
gestions less: those who knew the most mathematics accepted less 
than half as many of the suggestions as those who knew least 
mathematics. Those persons, therefore, least able to make suc- 
cessful checks for themselves were most susceptible to an imposed 

We have cited Coffin's experiments here at some length, since 
they provide unequivocal evidence of two important conclusions: 
(1) If a suggested stimulus is related to and consistent with an 
established frame of reference, it is likely to be accepted; and, (2) 
if a stimulus situation is ambiguous or relatively meaningless be- 
cause of its difficulty, then a frame of reference verbally imposed 
by the experimenter is readily accepted as the basis for judgment. 

A study by Ruth and Eugene Hartley concerned with poorly 
defined situations is particularly significant since it shows how in- 
dividuals establish "individually characteristic ranges and refer- 
ence points" by means of which they judge a relatively unstruc- 
tured social stimulus. [43] The Hartleys had students rate a series 
of pictures of completely unknown men. Among other ratings, 
the subjects were asked to estimate each man pictured on his "gen- 
eral ability" and his "likeliness to succeed." They found a con- 
stancy of ranges and central tendencies in the judgments and 
conclude that 


In making primary evaluative social responses to people, when little 
information is available, individuals tend to manifest characteristic 
ranges and central tendencies with reference to which judgments are 
made. [43] 

The research of McGarvey "was undertaken in order to deter- 
mine whether relations similar to those which have been found 
to hold with the psychophysical materials would appear also in 
judgments of verbal materials along value-dimensions." [66, 26] 
In her first experiment, McGarvey had subjects rate the social 
prestige attached to a number of occupations. After they had rated 
all occupations on a graphic scale, in further experimental sessions 
the top or the bottom category of the scale was set by an "anchor- 
ing value." In the second experiment the items judged were short 
descriptions of various types of social behavior to be evaluated in 
terms of their desirability. Again "anchoring stimuli" were in- 
troduced at either end of the scale. On the basis of these experi- 
ments McGarvey concluded that 

... the effect of the anchoring value was that of bringing about an 
extension of the absolute scale upward or downward in the direction 
of the anchoring value. The extension of the absolute scale involves 
not only a displacement of the scale with reference to the range of 
values represented by the stimulus-series, but also a widening of the 
categories of response, a finding in complete agreement with the 
results obtained with psychophysical material. [66, 78] 

In other words, judgment of a given stimulus is found to be deter- 
mined by the frame of reference within which that judgment oc- 
curred, and the introduction of new anchorages changed the 
dimensions of reference frames. This precisely parallels on a social 
level the results obtained by Rogers reported in the last chapter. 

The close relationship between memory and an individual's 
frame of reference was exhaustively shown by Bartlett who con- 
cluded that "remembering is 'schematically' determined," [8, 312] 
"an imaginative reconstruction, or construction, built out of the 
relation of our attitude towards a whole active mass of organized 
past reactions or experience, and to a little outstanding detail which 
commonly appears in image or in language form." [213] 


The circumstances that arouse memory orientations, whether they 
occur in the laboratory or in everyday life, always set up an attitude 
that is primarily towards a particular "schematic" organization. [8, 312] 

What a person remembers, as well as what a person observes of a 
given stimulus situation, was, Bartlett found, clearly influenced by 
the particular social origin of the individual's attitude. He showed 
how these attitudes, and consequently recall and observation, varied 
according to the cultural background of the individual, how they 
differed among members of various groups within a given social 
system, and how they differed within the same individual when 
he was or was not in the actual social presence of other members of 
his group. 

Various subsequent studies have indicated that material consist- 
ent with a person's attitude is much more likely to be remembered 
than material not consistent with it. Seeleman, in stating the 
problem of her experimental study of memory, says that "these 
differences in standards may be expressed as differences in subjec- 
tive norms or frames of reference/' [77, 7] She analyzed the in- 
fluence of the attitude toward the Negro on the remembrance of 
pictures of whites and Negroes to which were attached, in one 
experiment, favorable or unfavorable phrases supposedly describ- 
ing the individual shown. She found that persons with extremely 
unfavorable attitudes toward the Negro recognized fewer indi- 
vidual differences between the Negroes shown in the pictures, 
recognized correctly fewer Negro than white pictures, assigned to 
Negro pictures more unfavorable phrases and remembered these 
unfavorable phrases attached to Negro pictures more accurately 
than did persons favorable to Negroes. The evidence from these 
experiments is, then, that the attitude toward the Negro affects 
perception as well as memory. 

Wood [93] studied the changes occurring when subjects with 
favorable and unfavorable attitudes toward Negroes wrote ab- 
stracts of an article concerning differences between Negroes and 
whites. She found that subjects omitted and distorted statements 
from the article and added new statements in the direction of their 
own attitudes. When these somewhat biased and ambiguous ab- 
stracts were read and restated by other subjects with similar atti- 


tudes, the extent of change in the direction of the subjects' atti- 
tudes was even greater than when the original, more structured, 
and objective article was abstracted. 

G. W. Allport and Kramer have reported a study in which they 
found that persons who were most anti-Semitic were the most 
accurate judges of Semitism from pictures, [4] Zillig showed ex- 
perimentally that women tend to remember more items favorable 
to women, whereas men tend to remember more items favorable 
to men. [95] Watson and Hartmann demonstrated that a person's 
attitude toward atheism clearly determined what he would re- 
member of material concerning atheism and theism. [90] Ed- 
wards discovered that the political attitudes of his subjects signifi- 
cantly determined their recognition of items contained in a speech 
they had previously heard about the New Deal. [34] In another 
study Edwards demonstrated the extent to which a person's atti- 
tude stimulates him to rationalize his answers to factual statements 
with which he disagrees. [35] Levine and Murphy have shown 
experimentally that both the learning and the forgetting of pas- 
sages favorable or unfavorable to the Soviet Union are significantly 
affected by a person's attitude toward Communism. [63] 

The psychology of testimony presents many vivid illustrations of 
the influence of attitude on observation, judgment, and memory. 
Stern's early experiments on Aussage showed the suggestive effect 
of leading questions and demonstrated that the effect of such sug- 
gestions often became "stabilized" to influence later or allied judg- 
ments. He also demonstrated how persons tended to describe 
occurrences from the point of view of what was to them the "cus- 
tomary" or "usual" way for such occurrences to take place. The 
attitude a witness has toward a dispute and a witness' own attitudes 
toward situations were apt to have considerable influence on the 
testimony of the witness, even though he might be a highly edu- 
cated cautious individual. [86, 87] 

In an unpublished study by Lazarsfeld and associates of the re- 
action of individuals of various nationality and racial backgrounds 
to the same motion picture, the effect of attitudes in determining 
what will or will not be observed and remembered and what emo- 
tional reactions will be aroused in different people by the same 
stimulus situation is clearly demonstrated. The film was a short 


British war picture, Naples Is a Battleground, shown to experimen- 
tal groups in the early summer of 1944. Native white Americans 
tended to see in the film an example of American armed might 
and remembered particularly the showing of General Mark Clark; 
Negroes in the audience paid special attention to the Negro troops 
pictured; while most marked of all were the reactions of first- 
generation Italians who were impressed, saddened, or horrified by 
the ruins and extent of devastation. The experimenters observed 

There were certain aspects of this film that stood out for some but 
not for others because of their differing mental sets as they watched 
it. [61] 

A study of rumors made by Knapp in 1942 showed that "rumors 
become harmonized with the cultural traditions of the group in 
which they circulate." [57, 30] Rumors are given particular twists 
as they penetrate groups where characteristic norms are found, 
such as a high degree of anti-Semitism, anti-Negro and anti- 
British sentiment. He noted, for example, that in the Italian sec- 
tion of Boston rumors of enemy submarines outside Boston Harbor 
were similar to rumors in other areas of the city except that people 
in the Italian section believed the submarines were Italian. 

An experiment by George H. Smith [82] comparing the effects 
of fact and rumor labels on the credibility of news items has spe- 
cial relevance for our problem. Smith prepared as "news items" 
26 statements concerning the Soviet Union. Half the statements 
were favorable to the Soviet Union, half unfavorable. One third 
of all subjects were given the statements as "actual facts" which 
had been completely checked, one third received them as "unveri- 
fied rumors" for which the experimenter had failed to find factual 
support, while the remaining third reacted to statements that had 
no label attached. In addition, all subjects checked a scale measur- 
ing their attitudes toward the Soviet Union. 

Smith found that 

The absolute amount of belief an individual places in the "news" 
items, under any condition of labeling, almost certainly depends in 
part on the initial attitude with which he approaches the items . . . 


the plausibility of statements seems to be judged on the basis of some 
established scale. [82] 

When a statement was labeled a "fact," judgment was considerably 
more altered than when it was labeled a "rumor," although the 
"rumor" label did have some effect. 

The fact label swings the subjects in the direction of greater belief 
and . . . the rumor label edges them toward lesser belief, as compared 
with no label at all. [82] 

Smith's interpretation is that 

The "fact" label provides a tenuous standard of judgment which 
helps people to interpret a relatively ambiguous situation; but its 
effectiveness varies with its consistency to objective criteria or to 
established standards of judgment. ... It [the "fact" label] probably 
served as a point of reference in "critical moments" when other factors 
were not adequate to lead to a decision. [82] 

On the other hand, 

The rumor label is similar to no label at all in that it constitutes an 
ambiguous stimulus which forces people to interpret, or structure, the 
situation for themselves. [82] 

Numerous experiments on the level of aspiration have shown 
how the same performance can be regarded either as a success or 
a failure, depending on the frame of reference in which the per- 
formance occurs, (pp. 120 ff.) In the work of Chapman and 
Volkmann previously mentioned, the setting of a level of aspiration 
was studied under two sets of conditions. [30] In one experiment 
involving familiarity with the authors of various literary passages, 
each of the different experimental groups was given in advance 
of their direct acquaintance with the task involved the score sup- 
posedly made by another group. The score attributed to each 
group was the same but the groups varied in their prestige: authors 
and literary critics, students similar to the subjects, and WPA 
workers. Results here show a clear-cut tendency for those com- 
paring themselves to a superior group to lower their aspiration 
level, those comparing themselves to an inferior group to raise 
their aspiration level. In their second experiment, involving a test 
of mental ability, all subjects were given a test in two sessions be- 


fore any attempt was made to change their aspiration level by com- 
paring their performance to inferior or superior groups. Under 
these conditions, no significant change in the level of aspiration 
was produced; "the subjects' own previous scores provided the 
most effective anchoring." [235] In the conditions of the first 
experiment, the stimulus situation is unstructured, and an imposed 
norm is accepted as a frame of reference; in the conditions of the 
second experiment, the stimulus situation has become structured 
through experience, and imposed norms are ineffectual. 

Asch, Block, and Hertzman showed that judgments concern- 
ing the characteristics of different professional groups tend to be 
considerably modified when an evaluation from an authoritative 
source is introduced. [6] A close relationship was found between 
judgments on different characteristics of various professions, indi- 
cating that most of the judgments seemed to derive from under- 
lying attitudes. They conclude that "the judgments of a single 
situation are related to each other by a person in accordance with 
an underlying attitude of acceptance or rejection" [248], that "a 
standard having an authoritative source tends to alter an individ- 
ual's judgments in its direction" [249], that relationship in judg- 
ment becomes most clearly established "for situations which are 
not well-defined objectively" [257], and that "the observer, in the 
absence of objective criteria, and in the face of the necessity of 
reaching some conclusions, proceeds to arrange a scale of prefer- 
ence in terms of some generally favorable or unfavorable impres- 
sion." [229] 

Kay's study of the relationship between personal frames of refer- 
ence and social judgments indicates that an individual's evaluation 
of various occupations is considerably more affected by accepted 
social norms relating to those occupations than by an individual's 
own preference for an occupation or his experience with it. [54] 
In other words, the social norms concerning the value and charac- 
teristics of common occupations are rather uncritically taken over 
by individuals as personal frames of reference by means of which 
specific judgments are made. Analyzing her data further accord- 
ing to the source of information concerning the various occupa- 
tions rated, Kay found that for a third of the occupations "cultural" 
sources were mentioned most frequently, whereas the "personal** 


sources uncovered in the interviews were interpreted or reacted to 
on the basis of "personal frames of reference" and "in the light 
of existing social norms" rather than on the basis of the "objective 
quality of the experiences themselves." [55, 363] This interpreta- 
tion confirms Davis' study on the attitudes of children in Soviet 
Russia with its finding that Russian children rated laboring people 
high and lawyers and bankers low. [32] In their examination of 
the basis of prestige judgments of various occupational groups, 
Osgood and Stagner demonstrated that the "decisions about char- 
acteristics of occupational stereotypes tend to conform closely to 
a framework which is based on the relative prestige of occupa- 
tions." [75, 287] They conclude that 

... the mere presentation of a set of occupational stereotypes for a 
series of judgments caused our subjects spontaneously to establish a 
prestige framework which then determined in a highly reliable man- 
ner judgments on the specific traits listed. [75, 289] 

Asch found that an individual's judgment of relatively ill-defined 
and unclear situations could be changed when the imputed judg- 
ment of congenial groups was introduced as a reference. [7] On 
the other hand, subjects tended to reject the judgment of antago- 
nistic groups. Here we have evidence that an individual tends to 
accept an imposed norm as his own frame of reference for judg- 
ing a situation when that situation is itself unclear or when he has 
no pre-existing, sure, or ego-involved frame of reference of his own. 
An analysis of radio listeners who followed a particular commen- 
tator indicated that the chief function of a news commentator is 
to provide frames of reference by means of which listeners can 
judge the plethora of events going on around them. [22] The less 
people know about objective conditions, die more they depend on 
a commentator to tell them what these events mean and to help 
them select items to read in their newspapers. 

One of the most penetrating studies of the development of preva- 
lent attitudes in our social system is that of Horowitz on the 
genesis of attitudes toward the Negro. [45] He demonstrated un- 
equivocally that this attitude is imposed bodily and uncritically 
without any basis in experience or knowledge. He concludes "that 
attitudes toward Negroes are now chiefly determined not by con- 


tact with Negroes, but by contact with the prevalent attitude to- 
ward Negroes." [35] Horowitz developed a series of ingenious 
tests to measure attitudes toward the Negro objectively. These 
tests were administered to children and adolescents in a variety of 
social groups children in the rural and urban South, all white 
groups in New York City, mixed groups in New York City, and 
a group of New York Communist children. His tests showed 
that children in New York City were just as prejudiced as the 
children in the South, that children in mixed schools were as 
prejudiced as those in all white schools, that contact with popular 
Negro children had no effect on attitudes, and that the only group 
of children tested who had no prejudice against the Negro were 
children of Communist parents people devoid of racial prejudices 
which they would pass on to their children. Furthermore, Horo- 
witz found that Negro boys in mixed schools tended to accept 
some of the racial attitudes of the white majority of their group. 2 
His findings confirm the earlier conclusions of Lasker's well- 
known study that race attitudes in children are due chiefly to "the 
absorption of adult attitudes," [60, 371] and that contacts between 
children of different races are almost invariably influenced by the 
"adult-made environment." [371] G. W. Allport and Kramer 
found that if this adult environment contains institutionalized re- 
ligious training a young person is more likely to be prejudiced 
against minority groups than if such institutionalized religious 
training is absent. [4] Such findings as these indicate once more 
that, when rigidly established norms are accepted by an individual, 
his thinking on and reaction to related situations is highly in- 
flexible. [65] 

In a significant study concerned with the development of stereo- 
types toward the Negro, Blake and Dennis [12] had students from 
grades 4 through 11 in a southern school compare whites and Ne- 
groes on 60 characteristics. Their results showed that there was 
less agreement among the younger children who had a "relatively 
undifferentiated" attitude unfavorable to the Negro. They con- 
clude that 

2 This is reminiscent of the fact that in the days of slavery in the United States 
there was a sizable number of freed Negro slaves who, when they acquired land 
of their own, retained Negro slaves to work it [39] 


. . . the young white child acquires first of all a generally unfavor- 
able attitude toward the Negro, which makes him unwilling to at- 
tribute to the Negro any "good" traits. With increased age and 
experience, the child gradually learns to apply the adult stereotypes, a 
few of which are complimentary. [12, 531] 

The extent to which the accepted attitude toward the Negro affects 
judgment and goes against all evidence has been illustrated by 
a public opinion survey made in 1944 on a nationwide sample of 
the adult white population in the United States. A majority of 
those with opinions believe that Negroes are not as intelligent as 
white people and cannot learn as well if they are given the same 
education. And a third of our white population believes that 
Negro blood somehow differs from white blood, a third of the 
people believe it is the same, and a third say they don't know. [72] 
Murphy and Likert concluded from their study of attitudes to- 
ward minority groups that 

. . . the individual usually acquires his prejudices against a minor- 
ity group not primarily from contact with this minority group but 
chiefly from contact with the prevailing attitude toward this minority 
group. [70, 136] 

The acceptance of attitudes is further confirmed by studies which 
have shown the ease with which people characterize various na- 
tionality groups, irrespective of their lack of knowledge about or 
experience with these groups. Katz and Braly found that the 
preferential ranking of students for various nationality and racial 
groups closely followed a weighted ranking of the judgment of a 
comparable group of students on the stereotype of these same 
groups. [52] Public opinion surveys have shown that less than 
10 per cent of the American population feel unable to select from 
a list of adjectives those that best describe various nationality groups 
and that people in our culture have generally similar stereotypes 
concerning the characteristics of major nationality and racial 
groups. [15] 

Particularly significant as an indication of the way in which 
even minority groups accept the values of the larger macrocosm 
is the comparison that can be made between the characterizations 
of various racial groups by white and Negro Americans. For 


example, Meenes's results [68] on the Katz-Braly list of racial 
characteristics when used with Negro students are by and large 
consistent with those obtained on white students in 1933. [51] 
White students at Princeton and Negro students at Howard had 
essentially similar stereotypes concerning such peoples as the Jews, 
English, Irish, Turks. This is quite in keeping with Horowitz' 
finding previously mentioned concerning the acceptance of white 
attitudes by Negro children in mixed schools. The single notable 
exception in Meenes's study is the tendency of the Negro students 
to judge their own racial group on the basis of a different frame 
and hence to assign to it fewer uncomplimentary adjectives, such 
as "lazy" or "ignorant." 

The extent to which stereotypes influence judgment has been 
clearly demonstrated experimentally. Sherif, for example, showed 
that college students both in the United States and in Turkey were 
significantly affected in their rating of a literary passage by the 
name of the author attributed to that passage. [80] The passages 
used in the United States were all by one author, those used in 
Turkey were all by another author. The judgments of these pas- 
sages, then, were made largely in terms of established values. 
These results are similar to earlier demonstrations of everyday 
stereotypes shown by Zillig [95] among others and were confirmed 
later on still another type of material, [19] 

It is obvious that the whole psychology of fads and fashions is 
to be explained largely in terms of accepted norms and values that 
provide standards of judgment for style, correctness, and certain 
criteria for status, beauty, significance, and the like (pp. 348#.). 
In a note "concerning scientific progress" at the end of his Sensa- 
tion and Perception in the History of Experimental Psychology, 
Boring shows that even scientists, including psychologists, tend to 
conform to the Zeitgeist and are retarded by habits of thought 
currently fashionable or by "laboratory atmosphere." [13] It 
should be pointed out in this connection, however, that atmos- 
pheres of psychological laboratories, as well as more common fads 
and fashions, sooner or later change with new factors imposed by 
objective conditions or by the accumulation of evidence. The 
dresses women have for everyday wear in the western world can 
no longer be styled without reference to the demands of the ma- 


chine age in which they live; the Titchenerian influence could not 
remain unaffected by the results of Wiirzburg. As facts pile up in 
psychology or any other science, laboratory atmospheres and 
"schools of thought" become increasingly tenuous. 

Newcomb measured the change of attitude* of students in a 
small college community where nonconservative attitudes were 
considered to be more "proper" and to carry more prestige than 
conservative attitudes. [71] He found that this "community frame 
of reference" [151] significantly influenced the attitudes of students 
in the liberal direction during their four years, irrespective of the 
courses studied in college. Newcomb describes this shift of atti- 
tude as general rather than as a shift of a series of specific atti- 
tudes toward specific issues. When events or new proposals were 
reacted to, the more advanced students more consistently reacted to 
them in a liberal way. 

The way in which an individual's own present income provides 
a reference point for judging financial needs and aspiration has 
been demonstrated by Centers and Cantril. [29] In a nationwide 
survey concerned with the relationship of present income to satis- 
faction and wants, they found that, among those people dissatis- 
fied with their present income, the larger the income is, the more 
additional money is wanted. An analysis of judgments made by 
persons in different income groups of the income tax people in 
various income brackets should pay shows that those in the low 
income groups have such inadequate standards for judging the 
incomes of people in high income brackets that they tend to find 
such judgments difficult or impossible to make. Furthermore, 
when judgments are made by persons in the lower income groups 
of the tax which those in the highest brackets should pay, the 
figure given is significantly less than the tax upper income groups 
think should be paid by the rich, illustrating again the way in 
which judgment is anchored in individual frames of reference. [40] 

From his investigation of the effect of the monetary value of ob- 
jects on the perception of number, Ansbacher [5] whose research 
follows Brunswik's [17] concluded that "monetary value through 
familiarity does influence perception under certain circumstances." 
[56] Ansbacher used stamps of different denominations in his 
experiment. To study the variable of familiarity, both Canadian 


and American stamps were shown to Canadian and American 
observers. Subjects were asked to compare the number of stamps 
of one denomination in one group of stamps with the number of 
another denomination in another group. Under other instructions 
comparisons were made of the value represented by the two groups 
of stamps. A controlled psychophysical series, using stamps of the 
same denomination, was introduced in the experimental sessions. 
Ansbacher found that the judgment of the number of stamps of 
different denominations "is more variable than a comparable psy- 
chophysical judgment, viz., where both standard and variable 
groups consist of the same stamps." [83] A constant error ap- 
peared, similar to that found on judgments of size. 

In familiar stamps we find after psychophysical judgments a slight 
tendency to underestimate the more valuable group with respect to 
number [83] . . . value through familiarity does affect perception. 

Especially significant for us is Ansbacher 's finding that the greater 
variability in the number judgments disappears "if the number 
judgment is preceded by a psychophysical judgment . . . preced- 
ing psychophysical judgments seem to strengthen the number as- 
pect at the expense of all incidental objects." [83] In other words, 
if the subjects are able to establish a scale by repeated exposure to 
the series of stimuli, that scale, rather than one influenced by an 
imposed norm is used for reference. 

In a series of interesting experiments where coins were used as 
stimuli, Bruner and associates [1, 42] have recently studied "the 
influence of social value and social need upon the perception of 
objects under ambiguous and unambiguous conditions." [16, 241] 
They investigated the hypotheses that 

... (a) the greater the social value of an object, the more will it 
undergo perceptual distortion away from "objective" size, color, 
weight, etc., (b) the stronger the individual need for such valued ob- 
jects, the greater will be the distorting effect of value, (c) ambiguity 
in the perceptual field will either facilitate or reduce value distortion 
depending upon whether it favors or opposes the prominence of 
value cues. [241] 


In the first experiment, children from two groups with widely 
differing economic status (from a private school and a settlement 
house) were asked to judge the size of coins from a penny to a 
half dollar. 

For both groups, the greater the value of the coin, the greater the 
constant error of overestimation. Pennies were seen as 10 per cent 
larger than actual size, half dollars 35 per cent larger. The tendency 
of overestimation is significantly more marked among poor than 
among rich children. [241] 

When the same experiment was repeated with adults, judgments 
continued to show a distortion but one that was more discrimina- 
tive. The adults judged pennies, nickels, and dimes as smaller 
than their actual size; quarters and half-dollars as larger. Further 
experiments with adults using "made" money, showed that sym- 
bols with the highest value (dollars) produced greatest overesti- 
mation, that a meaningful but not highly valued symbol (swas- 
tika) produced less overestimation, while a meaningless symbol 
produced still less. 8 As the investigators point out, these results 
"suggest principles going beyond Weber's Law and Hollingworth's 
central tendency effect." [241} And they are entirely consistent 
with the findings of Bartlett, Coffin, and others already reported. 
Kornhauser's investigations of the class attitudes of various socio- 
economic groups have shown that in our American social system 
"logically opposed interests" do not by any means lead to uni- 
formly opposed class attitudes. [58, 59] Kornhauser did find, how- 
ever, that those persons within each economic group who were 
most dissatisfied in terms of their present status and opportunity 
did accept less frequently than others the traditional status quo as 
measured by attitudes concerning labor, government control, and 
the like. And although the attitudes of income and occupational 
groups were not diametrically opposed, still significant differences 
appeared between the attitudes of these groups on a number of 
social and political issues. In other words, objective conditions did 
not fit currently accepted economic and social norms. Particularly 
significant for our purposes are Kornhauser's reports of the in- 

8 The results of this second experiment were personally communicated to the 
writers by J. S. Bruner in May 1946. 


stances where no significant differences are found between the 
attitudes of different economic groups. These attitudes, accepted 
rather uniformly, were those which reflected the traditional Ameri- 
can ideology concerning individual opportunity either for the per- 
son himself or for his children. In chapter 6 we consider in more 
detail the current relationship among class identifications, status, 
and attitudes in the United States. 

That the attitudes toward labels describing different political 
systems are by and large uncritically accepted without any real 
knowledge of the principles or implications of those political sys- 
tems has been established in a number of different studies, Stag- 
ner demonstrated, for example, that people will have a distinctly 
unfavorable attitude toward Fascism but at the same time will ac- 
cept certain fascist doctrines. [84] Menefee comes to the same 
conclusion in his studies which reveal that if the statement of a 
political or economic principle is labeled as "fascist" it will call 
forth a much more negative reaction than it will without the label. 
[69] Edwards concludes from his investigations that 

Some college students have a far greater degree of sympathy for 
certain fascist principles than might be expected from their otherwise 
antagonistic reaction to the fascist label. [36, 580] 

Significantly enough, Edwards found that those persons who 
labeled themselves politically as "independents" were considerably 
more critical of statements of fascist principles than those who 
called themselves Democrats or Republicans. Katz and Cantril 
found that the attitude toward Fascism or Communism bore little 
relationship to the knowledge of Fascism or Communism among 
college students in 1939. [53] Their study also shows that, al- 
though there was an overwhelming rejection of the terms "Fas- 
cism" and "Communism," the majority of students felt at the time 
(before World War II had brought the implications of Fascism 
into clearer focus) that Fascism was a good thing for Germany 
and Italy but would be a bad thing for the United States, whereas 
Communism was a good thing for Russia but would be a bad 
thing for Germany and Italy and especially for the United States. 
In testing the effect of the labels "Communism," "Fascism," 
"liberal," and "reactionary," on passages that very obviously 


stated a point of view, Birch found that "even a well-structured 
attitude is affected to some degree by the application of a so- 
cially disapproved label." [11, 310] The fact that Birch was able 
to shift the degree of support given a statement when different 
labels were applied to it but was unsuccessful in shifting support 
from one statement to another, only emphasizes our contention 
that if a stimulus situation is in sharp contrast to a well-established 
frame to which it is easily related, no reversals in judgment should 
be expected. "Prestige" labeling is effective in determining a frame 
in proportion to the ambiguity of the stimulus situation. As we 
have said before, no realistic purpose is served by trying to have 
a person see a square as a circle. The investigations already cited 
show that broad symbols do tend to be accepted in social life with- 
out objective reference since objective reference is often not com- 
pellingly introduced in the stimulus situation. Those who use 
prestige labeling for propaganda purposes are, of course, eager to 
shift attention from any objective references that might contradict 
the frame they are attempting to build up. 

Analyses of political attitudes have indicated clearly that for the 
vast majority of modern Americans the way in which they vote 
is determined chiefly by the political attitude they have accepted 
rather than by any analysis of different party platforms or candi- 
dates. Hartmann has shown that individuals frequently accept 
the stated principles of political parties they strongly disapprove 
of so long as they are unaware that these principles have the en- 
dorsement of those parties. [44] Cantril and Harding discovered 
that over half of the voting population in the United States were 
completely unable to tell what the differences were between the 
major political parties even though the overwhelming majority 
of these same people voted consistently for one or the other of 
the major political parties. [25] Their analysis of the U. S. Con- 
gressional election of 1942 shows that the overwhelming propor- 
tion of the major issues of the day which might logically be 
thought to have some relationship to the way a person voted and 
which were discussed during the election campaign as partisan 
issues actually had little or no importance in determining vote. 
They also showed how people rationalize their accepted attitude 
by claiming that they usually vote for the candidate rather than 


for the party that candidate represents. At least two thirds of 
the people who vote a straight party ticket claim that they vote 
for the man rather than the party. Even the minority of voters 
who classify themselves as "independents" appear, on closer scru- 
tiny, to be considerably less independent than they claim. At 
least half of the "independents" vote a straight party ticket and 
well over half of the "independents" vote according to their 
father's political affiliation. 

Lazarsfeld, Berelson, and Gaudet have shown that a fairly re- 
liable index of "political predisposition" can be constructed for an 
individual from a knowledge of three social factors: religious affil- 
iation, economic status, and place of residence. [62] They found 
that cross pressures of these three social factors tended to delay 
a person's decision as to how he would vote. Relatively few vot- 
ers were sufficiently affected by political propaganda to change 
their political predisposition. Persons tend to expose themselves 
mainly to the political propaganda of their own party, but those 
whose predisposition is toward one of the major parties and who 
expose themselves more than others of their persuasion to opposi- 
tion propaganda do tend to vote more than others for the opposi- 
tion party. The less structured a person's political attitude is, be- 
cause of either lack of interest or social pressures, the greater is 
the variability of voting behavior and the greater is the influence 
of propaganda from various media or the effect of personal con- 

Breslaw concluded from his detailed interviews concerned with 
the development of political attitudes that political attitudes can 
more appropriately be described as an "orientation" or "bias" than 
a "point of view" logically arrived at. [14] 

Attitudes emerge from the particular social life which happens to 
surround the individual. [14, 65] 

An attitude 

... is an end product with no necessary relationship to the particu- 
lar components of that stimulation. An attitude is something that 
becomes implanted as fear of the dark becomes implanted in many 
different ways. [14, 66] 


The consistency with which an individual's attitude determines 
his reactions to situations to which he relates the attitude has been 
shown in a number of different studies. Vetter found that a per- 
son who was radical or conservative tended to be radical or con- 
servative in his reaction to a wide variety of social, political, and 
ethical situations. [88] Katz and F. H. Allport noted the "con- 
sistency with which different attitudes seem to fit together in their 
respective patterns." [50, 48] Cantril demonstrated that an atti- 
tude has a directive influence on numerous specific reactions to 
which it is related, that an attitude tends to be enduring and con- 
stant even though the situations which evoke it may fluctuate, and 
that an attitude can be quite independent of the particular experi- 
ences which may have established it. [18] Stagner found that 
persons who are intensely chauvinistic tend to react consistently 
and unfavorably to a wide variety of issues such as tariff reduction, 
labor unions, or government ownership. [85] 

In a study of the reaction of the American people to World 
War II, we find that, while the religious frame of Catholics previ- 
ous to Pearl Harbor affected their attitude toward U. S. interven- 
tion in the European war, it did not affect their attitude toward 
U. S. intervention in the Pacific war in the latter case there was 
no conflict between religious and nationalistic attitudes influencing 
the judgments of a stimulus situation. [27] The conflict of atti- 
tudes in German-American and Italian-American citizens result- 
ing from U. S. intervention in World War II and the effect of this 
conflict in voting behavior is revealed by the findings of Bean, 
Mosteller, and Williams that these two groups significantly shifted 
their vote away from Roosevelt in the 1940 election. [9] 

Analysis of data obtained from public opinion polls shows that 
major events are judged in terms of frames of reference which 
enable people to relate these events to their own self-interest. 
Hence public opinion on specific issues is highly sensitive to 
events, [26] Polls further show that, once the vast majority of 
individuals become aware that a social, economic, or political 
problem exists, they do develop attitudes toward that problem: 
the proportion of people who remain neutral or who have no 
opinion about an issue they are aware of is very small indeed. 


Studies on the prediction of social events have indicated the 
enormous extent to which attitudes direct the way in which the 
future is projected. [21, 67, 83] A person's attitude toward social- 
ism, for example, largely determines his picture of future economic 
trends. But the more highly structured and clear-cut the forces 
determining the resolution of an issue appear to be, the less is an 
individual's prediction determined by his own attitude. Predic- 
tions are especially influenced by frames or points of reference 
when the issue judged is ambiguous or unstructured because of 
the variety and apparent inconsistency of direction of the variables 

Although the bulk of our attitudes do seem to be derived from 
the norms that surround us, the fact remains that all other things 
being ^^/individuals do acquire attitudes based on knowledge 
and reasoned analysis. Murphy and Likert found, for example, 
that, next to parental influence, a student's reading habits and 
scholarship tended more than other factors to affect his atti- 
tudes. [70] It has been shown that there was a tremendous differ- 
ence between enlightened and unenlightened Americans in their 
pre-Pearl Harbor attitudes toward U. S. intervention in the war 
with enlightenment being based on general knowledge and a 
feeling of a clear idea of what the war is all about. [27] Differ- 
ences of opinion according to the degree of "enlightenment" were 
found within all income groups and were considerably greater 
than differences of opinion between income groups themselves. 
Evidence from public opinion polls shows that well-informed 
people accept less readily than uninformed persons many of the 
common stereotypes of the day, the facts they know serving as 
reference points for discrimination. [91] For example, Walsh 
[89] analyzed the relationship between the amount of information 
the American people had about the Soviet Union and their con- 
fidence in Russian postwar co-operation. Information appeared 
as a much more decisive determinant of opinion than did eco- 
nomic status or religion. He found that, in the fall of 1944, 73 
per cent of those who were best informed trusted Russia to co- 
operate with the United States, whereas only 30 per cent of those 
least informed trusted Russia. More highly educated people 
appear better able to see the implications of a point of view they 


hold and are more consistent in their attitudes than are less edu- 
cated persons. A study of American attitudes toward freedom of 
speech, made during the critical summer of 1940, indicated that, 
although well-educated people were somewhat more opposed to 
free speech at that time than less well-educated persons, among all 
those who did favor free speech the well-educated were more 

... to extend their tolerance to the logical conclusion of allowing 
Fascists and Communists to speak. Such a finding seems to indicate 
that these people are more burdened by the intellectual demand for 
consistency than are persons who have had less educational oppor- 
tunity. [27, 183 f.] 

Informed people are better able than uninformed to see the 
implications to their own self-interest of events and proposals. 
They show considerably more concern, for example, with interna- 
tional affairs as contrasted to relatively uninformed persons whose 
predominant concern is with strictly domestic problems. [28] 
The uninformed group generally has a comparatively higher "no 
opinion" reaction to most public questions. Differences of opinion 
according to the amount of information a person has do not 
appear, however, with respect to issues where wish fulfillment is 
clearly involved. For example, a study of the relative importance 
of education and economic status in determining opinion showed 
that education was more important than income only in situations 
where greater knowledge gives an insight into the effect of certain 
events or proposals that do not deal with an individual's financial 
return in any clear-cut way. [92] Diven's analysis of aesthetic 
appreciation indicates that all other things being equal if a well- 
informed and an uninformed person hold the same attitude with 
equal intensity the essential difference between them is that the 
informed man will be better able to rationalize his point of view, 
supporting it with what seems to him sound evidence. [33] 

A study of the nationwide panic in the United States resulting 
from Orson Welles's broadcast, "War of the Worlds," showed that 
when individuals are faced with a critical and apparently danger- 
ous situation they readily accept any interpretation offered them 
as a basis for judgment if they have no appropriate and sure 


standards by means of which to evaluate the situation. [23] Those 
frightened by the broadcast were highly suggestible, believing 
what they heard to be true and being unable themselves to make 
any external or internal checks of the reports. Furthermore, for 
most of those who became panicked, the story was credible since 
it fitted into pre-existing attitudes such as the belief that God 
would someday destroy our planet, or an attack by a foreign 
power, or fanciful notions concerning the possibilities of science. 
People who lacked appropriate standards to interpret the broad- 
cast properly were found particularly among those who had neither 
the opportunity nor the ability to acquire information or training 
that would have protected them with relevant points of reference. 
This broadcast occurred in the fall of 1938 when vast numbers of 
the population were unusually bewildered by the prolonged eco- 
nomic insecurity they had experienced and by the precarious and 
delicate state of world affairs following the Munich settlement. 
In commenting on the panic, Heywood Broun tersely and aptly 
summarized this effect of general, social, and political unrest by 
saying that "jitters have come to roost." Current norms were 
somehow proving inadequate to account for objective conditions; 
the whole course of recent history created a relatively ambiguous 
and unstructured situation conducive to high suggestibility. 

And just as critical conditions provide fertile soil for panics, so 
too do they provide the optimum conditions for rumor or for 
individual reorientation by means of slogans or simple appeals, 
Knapp concludes, for example, from his study of rumors that "in 
proportion as the cognitive world is ambiguous or ill defined and 
the motivation intense, rumors will find life," [57, 31] F. H. 
Allport and Lepkin in their study of rumors point out that 

The more "outer" facts, or true reports of facts, the individual has 
within his grasp, and the more he is stimulated to weigh this evidence 
objectively, the more nearly the picture he forms "in his mind" will 
conform to the true reality, and the less altered it will be through the 
effect of emotion and impulse. [3, 14] 

And Sherif points out, from his analysis of slogans, 

. . . that slogans are short-cut expressions arising in confused and 
critical situations ... the more correctly and the more objectively a 


set of slogans expresses the underlying forces in a critical situation, the 
more vital and lasting they will prove to be. [81, 461] 

In a more recent study of slogans, Bellak reaches the same conclu- 
sion with special emphasis on the role of motivational factors. [10] 
Since slogans can only be expected to take hold in critical times 
when they give meaning to or point a way out of confused situa- 
tions, it is not surprising that the judgments of slogans in die 
laboratory are unaffected by conflicting standards, as in the experi- 
ment of Asch, Block, and Hertzman [6], or Block's later study 
where only restricted shifts were found in the ratings of slogans 
when authoritative standards were imposed under laboratory con- 
ditions. [64] The leaders of any mass movement or revolution 
show sound psychology when, during a critical situation where 
old norms have lost their hold, they try first of all to get control of 
the mass media of communication so they can issue new instruc- 
tions, spread slogans, and otherwise try to restructure people's 

Analysis of the rise of various social movements shows how 
persons dissatisfied with their status or the fulfillment of their 
needs tend to accept new frames of reference provided by a leader 
or nuclear group which seem to them to "explain" their situation 
more appropriately and to offer an apparently more effective course 
of action than did adherence to the more commonly accepted 
norms of the social system. [24] The suggestibility of a person to 
new norms was found to be proportional to the inadequacy of 
existing standards for the interpretation of particular situations, 
to his desire for a more adequate interpretation, or to the ease with 
which the norms of a new movement could be related to estab- 
lished frames. 


Since the 1930's, economists in capitalistic countries have been 
introducing psychological concepts into their construction of a 
"dynamic" economic theory, as contrasted to the more "timeless" 
classical economics. They are bringing out into the open for close 
scrutiny what had only been implicit assumptions of more static 


theories: assumptions centering around the concept of "expecta- 
tions." And the expectations discussed by modern economists are 
frames of reference that determine or may in some way affect 
response to economic conditions. 

The English economist, Shackle, in his Expectations, Invest- 
ment, and Income [78] writes that 

The task of dynamic economics is to describe the inherent character 
of an economy in such a way that, given the particular situation exist- 
ing at one moment, as to the conceptions of the future held by differ- 
ent individuals and the composition of the material equipment, it is 
possible to deduce the situation which will ensue, if there are no 
abnormal extra-economic impacts, after some arbitrary interval. At 
any one moment the expectations of a business man, which deter- 
mine the decision he makes at this moment as to his action in the 
immediate future, are given. The totality of action by all business 
men in a short interval depends, if we take this interval short enough, 
on new decisions taken or old decisions left in force at the beginning 
of this interval. The totality of action in such an interval thus depends 
on the sets of expectations held by different business men at the 
beginning of the interval, and these are given. [78, 1] 

Keynes made the concept of expectations central in his The 
General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money which had 
such a profound influence on contemporary economic thinking. 

All production is for the purpose of ultimately satisfying a consumer. 
Time usually elapses, however and sometimes much time between 
the incurring of costs by the producer (with the consumer in view) 
and the purchase of the output by the ultimate consumer. Meanwhile 
the entrepreneur (including both the producer and the investor in this 
description) has to form the best expectations he can as to what the 
consumers will be prepared to pay when he is ready to supply them 
(directly or indirectly) after the lapse of what may be a lengthy 
period; and he has no choice but to be guided by these expectations, 
if he is to oroduce at all by processes which occupy time. [56, 46, italics 

After distinguishing between two groups of expectations, short- 
term and long-term, Keynes points out that "express reference to 
long-term expectations can seldom be avoided." [50] These long- 


term expectations are based on whatever data are available as well 
as on the confidence with which any forecast is made. 4 

The referential nature of these expectations is clearly recognized. 
Shackle [78], for example, writes that 

Before we can use Mr. Keynes* system to explain the economic 
pattern which emerges with the passage of time, we must release 
expectations from their status as a datum, and make them depend, at 
any moment, on the comparison which we may suppose business men 
to make between their expectations of a slightly earlier moment and 
what has actually happened in the interval. [78, 2] 

And Shackle points out in a later article that it is necessary to 
"study the psychology of expectations as a process of the individual 
mind." [79, 99] 

This concept of expectation is not confined merely to economic 
theory. It finds its place in concrete affairs of everyday life as is 
illustrated in the report of a Presidential fact-finding board set up 
to review the General Motors' strike in the United States in 
1946. [73] The report contains such phrases as these: 

On balance, we thin\ it reasonable to ex feet that in the early months 
of the new period productivity will be somewhat less than in 1941. 
. . . We thin\ it reasonable to suppose that in the year 1946, once this 
strike is settled and production begins again . . . [73] 

And the President of General Motors, commenting on the report 
of the fact-finding board, said that the wage recommendation 
made "is based on certain assumptions which in the opinion of 
General Motors are unsound." [74] 

The Federal Government of the United States in trying to for- 
mulate some of its policies is relying more and more on controlled 
investigations of expectations so policy makers will have some 
idea of what the future behavior of certain segments of the popu- 

4 Keynes's clear awareness of the fact that the economic behavior of men in 
bourgeois society occurs within a limited frame of reference they may be quite 
unaware of is reflected in a closing passage of his "General Theory*': "Practical 
men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences, 
are usually the slaves of some defunct economist Madmen in authority, who hear 
voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few 
years back. I am sure that the power of vested interests is vasdy exaggerated 
compared with the gradual encroachment of ideas." [56, 383] 


lation may be. For example, in 1942 and 1943, public expectations 
concerning price control were studied for the Office of Price 
Administration [48]; the Board of Governors of the Federal 
Reserve System used public opinion surveys because, as they say, 

It is particularly important to know something about the attitudes 
taken by liquid asset holders toward their liquid assets. [37] 

And the U. S. Department of Agriculture makes periodic checks 
on farmers' expectations, because 

It is evident that the planning of postwar farm programs must 
depend greatly on what farmers themselves want and feel they must 
have. [2, ij 

Thus government officials concerned with predictions explicitly 
recognize the fact that behavior can be predicted only if the frame 
of reference within which it occurs is understood. 

This relationship between the concept of expectations as used by 
economists and the psychological concept of frame of reference 
has been made explicit by George Katona. [46, 47, 49] He has 
pointed out that "the frame of reference of important economic 
groups" plays a large part "in determining economic decisions and 
actions." [47, 340] He notes the importance of determining 
whether expectations are based on rumors or on facts and empha- 
sizes that the understanding and prediction of economic behavior 
can be precise only if the frame of reference used is sufficiently 
encompassing to take into account new problems and situations 
brought about by events. 

In 1938, in a study of a specific social movement prominent at 
the time (the kingdom of Father Divine), we indicated how this 
cult could be regarded as a microcosm within the larger world 
macrocosm, how conflicts between the values of the two were 
inevitable and how either microcosms must "be patterned to fit 
the needs of an individual living in our modern world, or the 
conditions in the larger macrocosm must be changed to provide 
the satisfactions and meanings now artificially derived in the 
microcosms." [20, 166] It is significant to see the same distinction 
made by modern economists and to read that if economic analysis 


is to be "truly dynamic," the relationship of a "section of the huge 
economic mechanism" must be related to "fluctuations of the whole 
economic system taken in its entirety." Frisch wrote in 1933: 

When we approach the study of a business cycle with the intention 
of carrying through an analysis that is truly dynamic ... we are 
naturally led to distinguish between two types of analyses: the micro- 
dynamic and the macro-dynamic types. The micro-dynamic analysis 
is an analysis by which we try to explain in some detail the behaviour 
of a certain section of the huge economic mechanism, taking for 
granted that certain general parameters are given. Obviously it may 
well be that we obtain more or less cyclical fluctuations in such sub- 
systems, even though the general parameters are given. The essence 
of this type of analysis is to show the details of the evolution of a 
given specific market, the behaviour of a given type of consumers, 
and so on. 

The macro-dynamic analysis, on the other hand, tries to give an 
account of the fluctuations of the whole economic system taken in its 
entirety. Obviously in this case it is impossible to carry through the 
analysis in great detail. [41, 772] 

All of the representative studies cited indicate that only by means 
of some frame or anchorage can and does the individual judge and 
react to social stimuli. Individuals in social life cannot long re- 
main normally adjusted if they are in a state of indecision. Sooner 
or later they must and do make some appropriate judgment or 
reaction to a stimulus, place it in some way meaningful to them. 
The psychological process they use to make such judgments and 
give meaning to their social environment is to refer the stimuli 
around them to some frame of reference or anchorage they acquire 
and which is a readiness for reaction. These frames or anchorages 
which regulate everyday social judgments to an important degree, 
like frames or anchorages discovered in laboratory experiments, 
inevitably develop with repeated exposure to the same stimuli 
(objects, persons, groups, values, or norms) and individuals are by 
no means always aware that frames or anchorages have become 
established. Furthermore, as we indicate in later chapters, social 
attitudes are among the major components of the ego. Hence the 
psychology of ego-involvement and its relation to motivation can 


only be clearly understood with reference to the basic properties 
of frame formation and the implications this has for : udgment and 


1. ABROMSON, F., Perception: Further Evidence for a Tri factorial Theory, Honor's 

Thesis, Harvard Univ., Dcpt. Psychol., 1946. 

2. AGRICULTURE, U. S. DEPARTMENT OF, Farmers View the Postwar World, Bur. 

Agricultural Economics, September 25, 1944. 

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In this chapter we briefly sketch the problem and give a general 
characterization of ego-involvements. Our characterization here 
necessarily consists of rather arbitrary statements. These will stand 
or fall in the light of evidence presented in succeeding chapters. 

As we said in the introduction, we are using the word "ego" 
reluctantly. For the term has acquired many scientifically objec- 
tionable connotations, especially in the hands of certain philoso- 
phers and mystically inclined writers. The "pure ego" posited by 
William James, for example, is one of these connotations which 
has no psychological meaning for us, even though James did in 
other respects discuss the problem of the ego in naturalistic terms. 
Nor is the word "self" devoid of these objectionable associations. 
And inasmuch as some religiously inclined psychologists are cur- 
rently grasping the term "ego" as a substitute for "soul," there 
might be some advantage for scientific psychology if the concept 
were designated by Greek symbols. But we have preferred not to 
do this and have contented ourselves by using "ego" in a strictly 
demonstrable way on the basis of the observed facts of experience 
and behavior. 

As will become evident in the chapters to follow, what is called 
the "ego" consists, in the last analysis, of a constellation of attitudes 
which can be designated as ego-attitudes. Since scientific studies 
on ego-involvements are still in their initial stages, we are not yet 
ready in this book on ego-involvements to give a clear-cut defini- 
tion of the ego. But as we go along we shall give concrete and 
specific cases of constellations of ego-attitudes. And in passing we 
may point again to the fact, elaborated later, that the ego is not a 
fixed and immutable entity. It is formed during the genetic 
development of the individual (ch. 7); it is subject to transforma- 



tion (see especially ch. 9) and to disintegration under the stress of 
diverse factors (ch. 12). 

We can perhaps take as a matter of everyday experience the fact 
that most of the affective fixations (attitudes) which determine, 
delimit, focus, and shape the selectivity of experience and response 
to various stimulus situations are connected with the individuals, 
situations, or institutions to which a person is in some way related. 
Attitudes are toward my parents, my school, my gang, my church, 
my nation, my boss, my friend; toward my friend's rival, my 
father's competitor, my country's enemy, and so on. Most atti- 
tudes have the characteristic of belonging to me, as being part of 
me, as psychologically experienced. In short, they are, to repeat 
Koffka's term, "Ego-attitudes." x [6, 562] 

The personal world of every individual thus becomes centered 
around himself, as William Stern has pointed out. [19] Without 
in any way subscribing to the implications of Stern's personalistic 
psychology, we should call attention to his observations that in 
making judgments of "space" and "time" the individual inevitably 
uses himself as a central point of reference. This holds for what 
we regard as "inside" and "outside" of ourselves, what we regard 

x ln his Principles of Gestah Psychology [6] published in 1935, Koffka intro- 
duced the ego as "the hero of the play." [319] Following the line of general 
Gestah psychology, Koffka conceived of the ego "as a field object.** [319] In his 
phenomenological analysis of the sensory experiences that segregate the ego from 
the rest of the environment, Koffka made out his case for "the reality of the ego." 
In this and in later chapters (6 and 12) we refer to some of Koffka's keen obser- 
vations and to some of his fresh interpretations of the experimental psychology he 
knew so well. However, Koffka's formulation of the ego seems to us quite inade- 
quate for systematic psychology and especially for social psychology, largely because 
of his neglect of the characteristics of attitudes, especially those concerned with 
social behavior, and the functional relationship of attitudes to the ego. He re- 
garded attitudes as "forces which have their origin not in the surrounding field 
at all, but in the ego of the observer" [149, italics ours] ; an "attitude is a force 
which starts in the ego." [206, italics ours] This tendency to reify the ego and 
to conceive of it as an entity which somehow generates and propels attitudes is 
incompatible with our own position and seems to us to make for unnecessary 
obscurity and confusion. And Koffka did not stress either the fact or the 
implications of the fact that the ego is a genetic development. 

In chapter 14 we indicate why we cannot accept the psychoanalytic interpretation 
of the ego. .We also indicate there why Adler's conception of the ego as an end 
result of the universal "feeling of inferiority** arid the compensating "longing for 
superiority" seems to us invalid. 


as "above" and "below," as "before" and "behind," as "left" or 
"right," as "future" or "past." [97-97] What Stern calls a person's 
"introceptible world" is for him "the cosmos of individualized 
carriers of significance and value, and of claims that become re- 
lated to the person's center." [88] 

We have considered the psychology of attitudes in some detail 
in the three previous chapters because attitudes are the main con- 
stituents of the ego. Most attitudes are not discrete and isolated 
entities in the psychological make-up of the individual. Once 
formed, they provide the major components of which the ego is 
built. And so before considering the problem of the ego itself and 
the characteristics of ego functioning, we have tried to make sure 
that our conception of these ego components rested on a solid basis 
of fact. For this reason we examined experimental evidence from 
the psychological laboratory and evidence from more concrete 
situations. The basic psychology of ego formation is essentially 
the psychology of the formation of attitudes. But we must wait 
for the accumulation of more factual evidence before we are in a 
position to delineate and define adequately the constellation of ego- 
attitudes in the psychological make-up of the individual. For the 
constellation of ego-attitudes is not coextensive with the whole 
field of psychology. 

The characteristics of attitudes have already been indicated in 
previous chapters. Here we can give only a rough indication of 
the implications of these characteristics for the psychology of ego- 
involvement. More elaborate treatments of these implications as 
based on factual data are contained in later chapters. In chapter 2 
we pointed out that attitudes have a more or less enduring quality. 
The first stage in the actual formation of an attitude, being a per- 
ceptual stage and involving both internal and external factors, 
implies that attitude formation is a cognitive process, that attitudes 
are learned. This fact takes on special significance as we consider 
the relationship between attitudes and the ego. For it means that 
the characteristic feeling of continuity and permanence the indi- 
vidual has about himself as revealed by the constellation of ego- 
attitudes is derived in large part from the enduring quality of the 
many social and personal attitudes which become ego components. 

This does not imply, as we have noted before, that attitudes are 


fixed and unchangeable and, as a consequence, that the ego is fixed 
and unchangeable. The ego is definitely not a solidified structure, 
permanent once it is formed. Henri Wallon, in his excellent study 
Lcs Qrigmes du caractere chez l f enfant [20], points out with abun- 
dant evidence the changing nature of the small child's ego relation- 
ships as he becomes involved in different situations. "Personality 
remains as it were connected with the situation." (La personnalite 
reste comme adherente a la situation. [247]) He cites, for ex- 
ample, the case of a three-year-old girl who had spent several 
weeks in the country with her mother. When her father arrived 
from Vienna and asked if she recognized him, she said that her 
other father was in Vienna. When the father told her he was her 
daddy from Vienna, she asked if he came on the train. Wallon 
indicates that the child needed to recall her own trip, the change 
it had brought about in her own situation, before she could bring 
the two fathers into focus and "resolve in this way the incompati- 
bility of the situations in which they appeared to her in the present 
and in the past" (resoudre par ce moyen rincompatibilite des 
situations ou ils lui apparaissaient actuellement et dans le passe 

We shall also see that ego-attitudes manifested in different situa- 
tions can be quite contradictory. As Healy and Bronner have 
indicated on the basis of their studies of delinquent children, what 
we call "conscience," though universally found, "plays various and 
partial roles in determining or motivating behavior." [3, 12] 

Conscience may cover only certain areas in the field of conduct. In 
one case of our series a young boy evidently had a strong conscience 
about being mannerly and doing his school work well, while stealing 
seemed really to mean nothing to him except as he might be caught 
for it. And we have noted in some instances that lying was quite 
condoned by conscience while stealing was a sin, and that in other 
cases this was exactly reversed. [3, 12] 

Later we find ample evidence that the constellation of ego-atti- 
tudes can and does change in a given individual under the impact 
of compelling situations (chs. 9-11). When we consider the prob- 
lem of ego-breakdowns, we shall see that an individual's charac- 
teristic ego structure may become completely dissociated, may 


entirely collapse under cases of extreme stress or pathological con- 
ditions (ch. 12). Other attitudes may be only momentary affairs, 
but may still involve the ego. The accumulating experiments 
related to ego-involvements show that even under artificial lab- 
oratory conditions judgment and reaction are temporarily altered 
in situations to which the ego is linked experimentally (ch. 6). 

Ego-attitudes may be formed (learned) in relation to objects, 
persons, situations, or groups that somehow satisfy or frustrate 
those basic tensions, needs, drives, or instincts that do have a defi- 
nitely assignable locus in the organism. As we pointed out in 
chapter 2, the need for food or the sexual drive as such might be 
satisfied by an individual in any culture by almost any kind of food 
or any person of the opposite sex. But in everyday life this is by 
no means the usual state of affairs. We acquire tastes for special 
foods, and we are selective in our choice of a mate. Under or- 
dinary circumstances, the satisfaction of our instinctual urges takes 
place within an acquired frame of reference which is built up 
through experience and carries definite affective overtones as our 
needs are satisfied or thwarted. It is these ego-involved attitudes 
that, to a large extent under usual conditions, determine and direct 
the particular way in which the individual goes about releasing his 
instinctual tendencies and drives. 

And since the particular manner in which an individual satisfies 
his instinctual urges becomes in most societies an indicator of 
status, behavior which has its roots in biological and localizable 
functions of the organism becomes inextricably interwoven with 
complex ego-attitudes learned from society. A particular food 
its variety, quality, fashionableness, where and how it is eaten 
can be and is used as a mark of a person's position in life. We see 
later that clothing, in addition to the function it serves in protect- 
ing the body, also assumes in most cultures a status-distinguishing 
role (ch. 11). We will indicate the enormous consequences for 
behavior when the ego-attitudes that normally direct and deter- 
mine the way in which an individual will satisfy instinctual urges 
break down in conditions of extreme stress or deprivation (ch. 12). 

All attitudes that define a person's status or that give him some 
relative role with respect to other individuals, groups, or institu- 
tions are ego-involved. Whether these attitudes stem from some 


biological drive or whether they are derived from some non- 
instinctual source (from some social value or norm), any attitude 
is ego linked which functions to shape, delimit, or point to our 
relative position. In the United States, for example, the individual 
derives and experiences a general status from such reference groups 
as white or Negro; native or foreign born; upper, middle, or 
working class; worker, employer, or independent; Catholic or 
Protestant. And one derives and experiences a more specific status 
from his relative position in membership groups, that is, as the 
father of a family, a newcomer in a gang, an active member of his 
union, a key skilled worker in a factory. Directories such as 
Who's Who, compiled for the purpose of making it possible "to 
place" a person, describe individuals entirely in terms of their 
reference and membership characters. 2 And these attitudes, which 
define our relative position and status, determine and regulate 
experience and action in a major way in all those situations we 
relate to them. 

In addition to the evidence already presented, we will see in 
nearly all of die succeeding chapters how these ego-involved atti- 
tudesin youth and maturity, in everyday life and in the labora- 
tory guide our thoughts and actions as we try to maintain or 
improve our status or as we may try to shift it with changing 
conditions. Our satisfaction with ourselves, our aspirations and 
ambitions, our failures and disappointments, our fears and anxie- 
ties are all relative affairs, relative in the sense that we inevitably 
use ourselves, our position, our accomplishments, as reference 
points against the scale of values of our reference and membership 

Since the ego is a genetic formation, the particular attitudes that 
become its major components will vary according to the situations 
to which an individual is exposed, the particular constellation of 
social values or norms which have served as stimulus situations. 
As a result, then, the ego will have different components for indi- 

2 We are not ignoring the fact that we also think of ourselves in terms of 
certain temperamental characteristics or abilities we may possess or wish we 
possessed. A discussion of these personality characteristics and their place in social 
psychology is much too complicated to be treated here and must be reserved for 
a later volume. 


viduals living in different social systems or cultures. Observations 
of anthropologists reveal the enormous variety of established values 
or norms that become major ego constituents for individuals 
brought up in different cultures. As a result of these different ego 
identifications, very diverse loyalties and allegiances exist. Further- 
more, individuals or groups or classes of individuals within the 
same society may have quite conflicting or opposing values. The 
ego components of some individuals may conflict because of basic 
conflicts they reflect in objective social conditions (chs. 10, 11). 
For example, those who find themselves members of a minority 
group in a larger macrocosm, those who occupy marginal positions 
in a society, are likely to form contrasting and conflicting ego 
identifications. Ego components for other individuals may be 
more overlapping and integrated, owing to the more harmonious 
consistent relationship of the norms of a society. 

By no means all of the values incorporated are social values in 
the sense that they are widely accepted norms. Relatively or en- 
tirely unique personal values derived from our own distinctive 
experience may and often do become important components of 
the ego. In stressing the fact that major e&o-attitudes for most 
individuals seem to be acquired by the direct acquisition of social 
values or norms, we do not mean to ignore or in any way to 
minimize the fact that for some people or groups of people ego- 
attitudes can be and are derived from the analysis of objective 
situations, from facts, and from other direct experiences which 
they have with the objects, persons, institutions, and such, which 
become the content of attitudes. If this were not the case, it would 
be more difficult than it is to account for the political radical, the 
creative musician, artist, or scientist. These two facts namely 
that the content of ego-attitudes need not be always derived from 
widely held values or norms and that they may be built up through 
the direct observation, experience, and synthesis of specific facts, 
specific objective relationships help us further to account for the 
enormous individual differences we see in man's ego-strivings, for 
the different definitions people give to "self-interest," 

Group allegiances can and do direct a person into behavior 
which appears to be deviant from that of society at large. We 
shall see how the complete consistency of that behavior can only 


be understood in terms of the individual's group identifications 
(ch. 10). There is unequivocal evidence that the adolescent strives 
to anchor himself with some reference group that will give him 
general status or with some particular membership group in which 
the ego can be anchored more specifically (ch. 9). 

We will also show in later chapters what variety, change, and 
shifting about there may be in the ego components of the same 
individuals under different situations, particularly those situations 
which have the elements of crisis or conflict. As Koffka has 
pointed out, and as becomes increasingly clear, the ego is complex 
[6, 333], not a unidimensional structure. Koffka noted that under 
varying conditions the ego will "shrink," "contract," "expand," 
and so on. Illustrations of this variability are found in concrete 
social situations (ch. 11). This constellation of ego components, 
shifting under different situations, has been recognized by novelists 
and playwrights (ch. 13). 

A characteristic fact that holds for any individual in any culture 
is that experiences related to ego-attitudes, ego experiences, are felt 
by the individual with a peculiar warmth and familiarity. This 
was pointed out by Katzaroff in 1911 [5] : 

One may therefore assume that the feeling of familiarity (sentiment 
dc familier), deja vu, which accompanies a repeated sensation results 
from the fact that this sensation, when it passed through our con- 
sciousness for the first time became associated with the very feeling of 
our "Ego" (s'est associee au sentiment lui-meme de notre "moi") and 
was, so to speak, enveloped by it. 8 [5, 78] 

In a passage referring to Freud's concept of narcissism, Murphy, 
Murphy, and Newcomb have indicated their own belief that an 
individual's perception of continuous stimuli contributes to the 
emergence of a new value, the self: 

As the primitive, vague, ill-defined awareness of personal identity 
gives place to a more well-defined experience, as the individual learns 
where his own existence stops and the rest of the world begins, the 
self in the accepted narrow sense is born and becomes an empirical 
object toward which the attitudes of the organism are built up, just as 

8 The reference to this observation and the English translation are given by 
Koffka. [6, 594] 


attitudes are built up toward anything else ... the thing known as 
the self is a selection and organization of its experiences involving the 
visceral tensions, muscular strains, the sound of one's name, one's 
mirror image, and so on; and the thing which knows this pattern is 
simply the organism as a whole. If this is correct, it is easy to see that 
the self, being a primary source of many satisfactions, must inevitably 
become a value. The self is something which we like and from which 
we expect much. [13, 209 f.] 

It is also the constant ego reference of so much of our experience 
that gives us our sense of continuous individuality. We are con- 
stantly reacting to stimuli on the basis of our attitudes. We are 
continually enjoying or suffering the consequences of our judg- 
ments and actions. And it is by means of the constellation of our 
attitudes that we experience and react to the welter of external 
stimulation in a more or less consistent way, unlike children lack- 
ing stable ego-attitudes. The consistency thus established defines 
our role in a more or less lasting way in relation to the persons, 
situations, and institutions we face. It sets the boundaries of our 
personal psychological world, a world in which our egos act as a 
major reference point. The physicist, Schrodinger, after his bril- 
liant review of modern developments in physics and biology and 
the implications they have for the answer to the question he poses 
in his little book, What Is Life?, comes to the conclusion: "Yet 
each of us has the undisputable impression that the sum total 
of his own experience and memory forms a unit, quite distinct 
from that of any other person. He refers to it as 'I.'" [16, 90] 

The particular glow of individuality, the sense of "me-ness" 
consciously or unconsciously accompanying experience with an 
ego reference, assumes for the individual a special and unique 
value. In one way or another we all try to feel good about our- 
selves. In our various personal and social relationships, we try to 
place ourselves (our egos) securely and appropriately in our own 
eyes. We try somehow to orient ourselves in the concrete world 
we live in until the "place" we think we occupy is satisfactory to 
us. In this process we do what we can to protect our egos against 
any onslaughts from the external world which we feel might hurt 
us. If our ego is injured we resort to all kinds of rationalizations, 
to protective adjustments, to selective modes of reasoning and 


behavior in which we manipulate things, persons, memories, or 
ideas, in a highly selective way. 

These strivings related to our ego assume very different direc- 
tions, proportions, and intensities for different individuals, not only 
in different cultures, but in the same culture or the same small 
group. And, furthermore, the ego-striving of any given person 
can and does assume very different intensities and proportions at 
different times, depending upon the nature of the situation in 
which the individual finds himself and upon internal physiological 
or psychological processes. 


The constellation of ego-attitudes which may be referred to as 
the ego of the individual is a genetic formation (ch. 7). But this 
fact does not mean that ego-attitudes are mere cognitive forma- 
tions devoid of strong affective or purposive properties prompting 
the individual to diverse strivings. As we shall see in the relevant 
studies on child and adolescent behavior, on group and gang for- 
mations, in the experimental laboratory as well as in concrete 
situations of everyday life, the individual strives in one way or 
another to maintain or to enhance his ego. And in order to learn 
something about these unmistakable signs of striving related to 
the ego and to take them into account (as we must) in any ade- 
quate and scientific formulation of psychology we cannot resort to 
the easy solution of positing some innate ego drive, ego instincts, 
or ego needs. We have already pointed out that what we regard 
as primary drives (instincts or needs) are those which have some 
definite and localizable anatomical or physiological place in the 
organism. Such instincts or drives, which, like hunger, appear at 
birth or, like sex, appear at a later stage of organic development, 
are innate. In this sense, therefore, any position which implies 
that there is an ego drive comparable to other primary drives is 
quite untenable. [17, 184f.] Since it is so important that the psy- 
chology of ego-involvements be clearly divorced from any meta- 
physical or spiritualistic interpretation, we shall list here a few of 
the reasons for our conclusion that there is no primary ego drive. 

1. Ego-striving in what seems to us the only justifiable use of 


the term is possible only after an individual has acquired (learned) 
the complex and variously differentiated patterns of human 
(social) relationships that surround him. The process involved 
in grasping these relationships is essentially coincident with that 
of ego development. Prior to the delineation of the baby's body 
from his surroundings and the formation of other ego-attitudes, 
ego-involvements cannot occur. For example, social distances 
(which can be expressed in terms of psychological variables as 
ego distances), social prejudices toward human groups and their 
individual members are found to operate only after a certain de- 
gree of ego development, that is, the degree that makes it possible 
for the child to experience established reciprocal group relation- 
ships such as "we" and "they." 

Evidence that complex social relationships, along with appropri- 
ate values and norms of experience and behavior, are not innately 
experienced but are learned is seen from the fact that these rela- 
tionships vary greatly from society to society and from time to 
time within a society. Even that important range of intimate 
personal relationships prescribed by kinship constellations does not 
always fit into the biological proximity of consanguinity. It even 
varies widely within the ranges of consanguineous relationships. 
In fact, the relative proximity of the ego links represented in kin- 
ship relationships, in spite of their biologically workable lineage 
based on consanguinity, can serve as a crucial piece of evidence that 
ego links are not innately experienced ties. 

Kinship, family ties, the relative proximity of relatives, the 
affective components, loyalties, and responsibilities attached to 
them change with variations in the social organizations of different 
societies as determined by the character of their socioeconomic 
level of development and functioning. Here we can cite only a 
few examples. The thesis is well developed by such substantial 
authorities as Morgan [12], Engels [2], Rivers [15] and others. 
A person who cannot conceive of any other kinship relationships 
than the ones he is brought up to experience may be surprised to 
find such diverse types of kinship systems and to learn from a 
brief general discussion such as Lowie's that in some societies 
kindred may be "grouped, for example, according to generation 


or age level as well as to differences between direct and collateral 
lines of descent." [9, 568] 

For the last 80 years anthropologists have piled up many ex- 
amples of variations in kinship relationships. In different cultures 
and at different periods in the same cultures, kinship relationships 
present such a diverse and complex picture that many an anthro- 
pologist has attempted to formulate intricate classificatory schemes 
with the aim of presenting them in some sort of order. Such 
attempts were found necessary, for, as Radcliffe-Brown [14] 
points out, 

If you will take time to study two or three hundred kinship systems 
from all parts of the world you will be impressed, I think, by the 
great diversity that they exhibit. [14, 17] 

A few concluding statements illustrated by examples from an 
anthropologist will clarify our point. Radcliffe-Brown notes the 
various ranges of kinship relationships and their psychological 
implications in terms of rights and duties: 

A most important character of a kinship system is its range. In a 
narrow range system, such as the English system of the present days, 
only a limited number of relatives are recognized as such in any way 
that entails any special behaviour or any specific rights and duties. In 
ancient times in England the range was wider, since a fifth cousin 
had a claim to a share of wergild when a man was killed. In systems 
of very wide range, such as are found in some non-European societies, 
a man may recognize many hundreds of relatives, toward each of 
whom his behaviour is qualified by the existence of the relation- 
ship. [14, 2] 

And again: 

A kinship system also includes the existence of definite social groups. 
The first of these is the domestic family, which is a group of persons 
who at a particular time are living together in one dwelling, or collec- 
tion of dwellings, with some sort of economic arrangement that we 
may call joint housekeeping. There are many varieties of the domestic 
family, varying in their form, their size, and the manner of their 
common life. A domestic family may consist of a single elementary 
family, or it may be a group including a hundred or more persons, 
such as the zadruga of the Southern Slavs, or the taravad of the Nayar. 


Important in some societies is what may be called a local cluster of 
domestic families. In many kinship systems unilinear groups of 
kindred-lineage groups, clans and moieties play an important part. By 
a kinship system, then, I mean a network of social relations of the kind 
just defined, which thus constitute part of that total network of social 
relations that I call social structure. The rights and duties of relatives 
to one another and the social usages that they observe in their social 
contacts, since it is by these that the relations are described, are part 
of the system. [14, 2] 

Such variations in kinship systems and family relationships are 
not peculiarities of geographically distant cultures alone. Changes 
in kinship and family relationships have come with socioeconomic 
changes and changes reached in the level of development. As we 
have seen previously, Radcliffe-Brown cites a concrete case of the 
changes brought about historically in the British kinship system. 
From the same European area, he gives the case of a kinship system 
which is contrary to that of the British system: 

In Montenegro, on the contrary, to take another European system, 
the father's brothers constitute one category and the mother's brothers 
another. These relatives are distinguished by different terms, and so 
are their respective wives, and the social relations in which a man 
stands to his two kinds of uncles show marked differences. [14, 7] 

Stern [18] has recently made a concise and intensive review of 
the changes of the status of women which took place in the family 
and in life in general as a consequence of modern technological 
and social changes. For example, the 17th century wife's concep- 
tion of herself as given in the following quotation is quite different 
from a modern New York wife's conception of herself: 

The dutie of the husband is to travel abroad to seeke living: and 
the wives dutie is to keepe the house. The dutie of the husband is to 
get money and provision; and the wives, not vainly to spend it. The 
dutie of the husband is to deale with many men : and of the wives, to 
talke with few. The dutie of the husband is, to be entermedling: and 
of the wife, to be solitairie and withdrawne. The dutie of the man is, 
to be skilfull in talke: and of the wife, to boast of silence. The dutie 
of the husband is, to be a giver: and of the wife, to be a saver , . . 


Now where the husband and wife performed! the duties in their 
house we may call it College of Qyietness: the house wherein they 
are neglected we may term it a hell. 4 

2. Analysis of different cultures and different social systems, or, 
in some social systems, the analysis of different groups within that 
social system, reveals that the ego-striving of individuals may be 
directed to diametrically opposite ends and goals. Some Christian 
saints strove to satisfy their egos by dispensing with all material 
things, a sharp contrast to the behavior of some "acquisitively 
minded" individuals in most contemporary bourgeois societies. 
People in some cultures seek ego-gratifications through co-opera- 
tive, relatively submissive behavior, whereas people in other so- 
cieties obtain their gratifications through competitive relatively 
ascendant behavior. The ego-satisfaction obtained by a Stahkanov- 
ite in socialist competition is of a far different sort in its significance 
to the individual from the type of satisfaction it is possible for a 
skilled worker to obtain under capitalist competition (ch. 11). 

Likewise, statuses aspired to by individuals change according to 
different hierarchical status organizations in societies. As Linton 
[7] puts it: 

In all societies certain things are selected as reference points for the 
ascription of status. [7, 115] 

Consequently, with shifts of reference points of status in different 
societies and with major changes in the same society at different 
times, the directions of strivings for status shift. The fact that 
reference points of status do shift is particularly important for the 
psychology of ego-attitudes which are the psychological counter- 
part of social status. 

Similarly, the co-operative and competitive behavior shown by 
different personalities are indications of nothing other than the 
inculcation of appropriate ego-attitudes. These contrasting forms 
of behavior are culturally determined and are not the marks of 
innate ego drives of assertiveness or submissiveness. For example, 
in a series of studies representing different cultures from widely 
scattered geographical areas, it has been impressively demonstrated 
that individuals show predominately competitive, or co-operative, 

4 Stern quotes this passage from [10, #/?/.]. 


or individualistic behavior which is in harmony with the behavior 
characteristics commended in their respective cultures. [11] Thus, 
individuals in Manus, Kwakiutl, Ifugao societies tend to exhibit 
rather competitive behavior; whereas individuals of Iroquois, 
Samoa, Zuni, Bathonga, Dakota, and Maori societies tend to show 
rather co-operative behavior all following the characteristics on 
which the prevailing norms of their respective societies put a 

3. Certainly there are individual differences in the degree and 
intensity of ego-strivings. These individual differences, in our 
opinion, can be accounted for by a complex of factors such as 
primary drives for food, sex, and the like; individual bodily condi- 
tions; individual differences in glandular functioning; tempera- 
ment; ability; and other variations that may be largely hereditary; 
together with the direction these factors will take and the signifi- 
cance they will have for the individual within the frameworJ^ of 
the attitudes acquired from his particular constellation of social 
relationships. This fact is clearly brought out by the biologist 
Julian Huxley who writes: 

Let us remind ourselves that superposed upon this purely biolog- 
ical or genetic variability is the even greater amount of variability due 
to differences of upbringing, profession, and personal tastes. The final 
result is a degree of variation that would be staggering if it were not 
so familiar. It would be fair to say that, in respect to mind and out- 
look, individual human beings are separated by differences as profound 
as those which distinguish the major groups of the animal kingdom. 
[4, 8, italics ours] 

It should be noted again in passing that the constellation of these 
factors may be and usually is quite different for different individ- 
uals and that it will vary within the same individual with biological 
changes (for example, those that come about with increasing age), 
with the relative satisfaction of his basic needs, and with the 
opportunity afforded by the situation or the environment for the 
maintenance or enhancement of his position. Sudden and appar- 
ently inconsistent shifts in the direction a person's efforts will take 
can become meaningful only when these pursuits, these derived 


drives, are related to learned ego-involved values. [1, 41-52] 
Chapter 10, dealing with ego-involvements in group situations, is 
filled with data that point to this conclusion. 

4. Subnormal individuals, such as imbeciles, have ego structures 
that can be demonstrated to be extremely narrow and confined. 
To borrow a phrase used by Huxley in another connection, the 
difference between such a subnormal person as might be found in 
almost any state institution for the feeble-minded and an intelli- 
gent adult vigorously trying to achieve certain desired ends, is 
"comparable in extent with that between a sponge and a higher 
mammal." [4, 8] However, both the subnormal individual we 
might select at random and an intelligent individual displaying a 
continuous and complex ego-striving would more than likely be 
found to have similar good appetites for food, similar needs for 
sexual satisfactions, and so on. 

5. Under certain conditions, either physiological, pathological, 
or situational, the ego may break down, dissolve, apparently dis- 
appear for either a shorter or a longer time. This is not true of 
innate or biologically given instincts or drives which, by almost 
any definition, are constantly, and recurrently, or periodically 
manifested. We discuss later in some detail instances of ego-break- 
down, ranging from the ungentlemanly behavior of individuals 
when they are drunk, the unladylike behavior of socially refined 
women when they are desperate for food, the resort to prostitutes 
of men in love when their sex needs become extreme, to more 
complicated and enduring dissociations brought about by extreme 
prolonged situations or by pathological conditions (ch. 12). In all 
these cases established ego-attitudes become separated from judg- 
ment and behavior. A person does not act like "his normal self." 

6. We should include in our list the point previously emphasized 
that there is no evidence for the existence of an ego drive in the 
sense that this drive, like primary drives for food and sex, has a 
definitely assignable locus in the individual organism. We are, of 
course, not at all denying the fact that psychological phenomena 
and experiences, such as ego-involvements, are due to complex 
chemical or physical reactions within the organism. As Schro- 
dinger says: 


My body functions as a pure mechanism according to the Laws of 
Nature. [16, 87] 

It is not at all impossible or improbable that in the unforeseeable 
future the physical scientist may work out some intricate and valid 
formulas to describe those processes in the organism that are expe- 
rienced as ego-involvements. But if and when this is accomplished, 
the qualitative differences between such formulations and our 
current relatively precise knowledge concerning the physical basis 
of primary drives such as hunger and sex will almost surely be so 
vast that they cannot possibly be classified together. 

7. There is no ego formation, no ego-involvement, in animals 
in the sense of reciprocal interpersonal relationships and group 
relationships on a conceptual level. There is no animal culture 
comparable to that of man. Ego formation and ego-involvement 
require that the organism shall be capable of functioning on a 
conceptual or symbolic level. The values, standards, or norms of 
social relationship to which the human being relates and identifies 
himself are possible only because he is able to grasp these values, 
standards, or norms conceptually. There can obviously be no 
involvement or identification with let us say, class, nationality, or 
occupational groups, unless the meaning and significance of a 
"class," a "nation," or an "occupation" can be conceived on a con- 
ceptual level. And in turn, of course, social groupings, organiza- 
tions and institutions characteristic of human society would be 
impossible without the interconnections, loyalties, and traditions 
that are based on conceptual thinking. 

This fact is of the utmost importance. For it means that find- 
ings concerned with social behavior on the subhuman level may 
by no means be applicable to the human level when reciprocal 
human relationships or the conceptual level of human interaction 
is in question. It means that in the psychology of ego-involve- 
ments we are dealing with a unique human characteristic, an 
emergent that is qualitatively different from other evolutionary 
products, an emergent that follows the dialectic process. What 
we observe as animal aggressiveness and animal affective fixations 
are determined by momentary situations, by relative physical 
strength, by brute force, or by fixations built up through the 


process of conditioning which docs not involve reciprocal relation- 
ships on the conceptual level. 

The uniqueness of human culture and its dependence upon 
language (concept) formation are nicely brought out and well- 
documented by Warden, an outstanding comparative psychologist, 
in his The Emergence of Human Culture. [21] He writes that 

. . . the simple truth seems to be that man's primary claim to 
distinction rests upon the fact that he alone possesses a genuine cul- 
ture. [21, 3] 

The transition from the humanoid level to the first human type was 
coincident with the emergence of the cultural order. [21, 99] 

After surveying the social life of insects, birds, and mammals, he 
states bluntly that "even the rudiments of culture do not exist 
among sub-human organisms." [65] 
Our human culture, then, is "an emergent," [23] and 

An emergent system has new properties and new modes of organiza- 
tion that seem to bear no definite relation to the old order from which 
it arose. [21, 24] 

In describing this emergent, human culture, Warden points out 

This new type of social integration was unique in that it reached 
above the purely biosocial level. For the first time, invention, effective 
communication within the group, and the social habituation of the 
young became possible. The activities of the individual were no longer 
limited to the instinctive repertory of the species. New skills could be 
invented by the superior individual and passed along to the other 
members of the group by means of language. Simple folkways could 
now develop out of the greater variety and intimacy of social contacts. 
These new ways of doing and acting, as accepted by the group, could 
be impressed upon the young through language and imitation. Such 
of the skills and folkways as survived from generation to generation 
comprised a rude tradition. This new mode of social integration was 
cultural rather than biosocial. [21, 105 /.] 

Throughout his book, Warden emphasizes the fact that 

The cultural order was unique because the presence of language 
made possible a new and most important type of social integration. 


Communication, invention, and social habituation he regards as 
the three "basic mechanisms" that make the human cultural order 
possible. [21] Concerning communication he states that 

It seems altogether unlikely that a culture could emerge and main- 
tain itself without the support of a well-developed capacity for vocal 
language. [22] ... Language ^becomes an important instrument for 
the broadening of cultural contacts. The child now learns to express 
its own desires effectively and to understand and heed those of others. 
It learns to recognize such social distinctions as attach to age, rank, 
and other tribal relationships. It comes to play games according to 
rule and custom. The channels of thought are marked out by the 
folklore and ideas of current conversation. The attitudes and beliefs 
of the group gradually become those of the child. [7/.J . . . Moral 
sentiments are inculcated and many additional duties and obligations 
are imposed. Conformity with group norms of conduct takes on a 
new importance because of its relation to personal success and pres- 
tige. [21, 8] 

The point has also been fully recognized by outstanding biolo- 
gists of our day. For example, Julian Huxley, in a chapter, "The 
Uniqueness of Man," in his Man Stands Alone [4] writes: 

... let us remind ourselves that the gap between human and animal 
thought is much greater than is usually supposed. The tendency to 
project familiar human qualities into animals is very strong, and col- 
ours the ideas of nearly all people who have not special familiarity 
both with animal behavior and scientific method. [19] . . . In point 
of fact, the great majority of man's activities and characteristics are 
by-products of his primary distinctive characteristics, and therefore, 
life them, biologically unique. On the one hand, conversation, or- 
ganized games, education, sport, paid work, gardening, the theatre; 
on the other, conscience, duty, sin, humiliation, vice, penitence these 
are all such unique by-products. The trouble, indeed, is to find any 
human activities which are not unique. Even the fundamental bio- 
logical attributes such as eating, sleeping, and mating have been tricked 
out by man with all \inds of unique frills and peculiarities. [29, italics 

The first and most obviously unique characteristic of man is his 
capacity for conceptual thought; if you prefer objective terms, you will 
say his employment of true speech, but that is only another way of 
saying the same thing. True speech involves the use o verbal signs 


for objects, not merely for feelings. Plenty of animals can express the 
fact that they are hungry; but none except man can ask for an egg or 
a banana. [3, italics ours] 

Words are tools which automatically carve concepts out of experi- 
ence. The faculty of recognizing objects as members of a class pro- 
vides the potential basis for the concept; the use of words at once 
actualizes the potentiality. This basic human property has had many 
consequences. The most important was the development of a cumu- 
lative tradition. The beginnings of tradition, by which experience is 
transmitted from one generation to the next, are to be seen in many 
higher animals. But in no case is the tradition cumulative. Offspring 
learn from parents, but they learn the same kind and quantity of 
lessons as they, in turn, impart: the transmission of experience never 
bridges more than one generation. In man, however, tradition is an 
independent and potentially permanent activity, capable of indefinite 
improvement in quality and increase in quantity. It constitutes a new 
accessory process of heredity in evolution, running side by side with 
the biological process, a heredity of experience to supplement the uni- 
versal heredity of living substance. The existence of a cumulative 
tradition has as its chief consequence or if you prefer, its chief 
objective manifestation the progressive improvement of human tools 
and machinery. Many animals employ tools; but they are always 
crude tools employed in a crude way. Elaborate tools and skilled 
technique can develop only with the aid of speech and tradition. [3f.] 
. . . Speech, tradition, and tools have led to many other unique prop- 
erties of man. These are, for the most part, obvious and well known, 
and I propose to leave them aside until I have dealt with some less 
familiar human characteristics. [5] 

The essential character of man as a dominant organism is con~ 
ceptual thought. And conceptual thought could have arisen only in a 
multicellular animal, an animal with bilateral symmetry, head and 
blood system, a vertebrate as against a mollusc or an arthropod, a 
land vertebrate among vertebrates, a mammal among land vertebrates. 
Finally, it could have arisen only in a mammalian line which was 
gregarious, which produced one young at birth instead of several, and 
which had recently become terrestrial after a long period of arboreal 
life. There is only one group of animals which fulfils these conditions 
a terrestrial offshoot of the higher Primates. Thus not merely has 
conceptual thought been evolved only in man: it could not have been 
evolved except in man. There is but one path of unlimited progress 
through the evolutionary maze. The course of human evolution is as 


unique as its result. It is unique not in the trivial sense of being a 
different course from that of any other organism, but in the pro- 
founder sense of being the only path that could have achieved the 
essential characters of man. Conceptual thought on this planet is 
inevitably associated with a particular type of Primate body and 
Primate brain. [4, 15 /., italics ours] 

Another biologist, Leo Loeb, writing in 1945 on the Biological 
Basis of Individuality [8] shows the necessity of concept forma- 
tion for man's unique individuality. He uses this fact as a stepping 
stone for his own formulation, in his own terminology, of the 
way in which the ego (the "I") emerges in man as a distinctive 
characteristic. And he goes still further in his book to indicate 
the implications this emergence has for man's identifications and 
social relationships. 

According to Loeb, the ability to form concepts, to think ab- 
stractly and synthetically, has come about suddenly and appears 
only with the development of man. 

There has ... taken place an evolution of two types of individu- 
ality. The first is connected with the differentiation of the organ 
differentials and with the evolution of the individuality differential 
and its manifestations, from a very primitive character to the state of 
great refinement reached in mammals. The second is connected with 
the evolution of the psychical-social factors, leading to the gradual 
creation and refinement of the individual in the psychical-social sense. 
This second evolutionary process is related only indirectly to the 
development of the individuality differentials; it depends directly upon 
the increasing complexity and refinement of certain organ differentials, 
especially of the nervous system. There is, therefore, no perfect 
parallelism between these two evolutionary processes. While in the 
first process a gradual, step-by-step development of the individuality 
differential occurs, in the second process the most important, jar- 
reaching change has ta\en place suddenly in the transition from an- 
thropoid apes to man. [8, 654, italics ours] 

He finds no evidence of these higher thought processes even in 
anthropoid apes. 

Proceeding now from the other higher mammals to man, very pro- 
nounced complications in the modes of reactions are observed. Not 
only does the environment, which acts on us through our sense organs, 


induce changes which have a much more varied and also more lasting 
effect on our behavior than in other mammals, but abstraction and 
synthesis, in which the elements in the environment are separated and 
then re-arranged in new combinations, become very prominent. 
Thoughts develop, in which the constituents of the environment may 
appear in combinations different from those in which they occur under 
natural conditions; through shifting of these constituents new concepts 
are formed. [8, 619] 

As a consequence of man's unique mental capacities and his 
interaction with both the natural and social environment, the "I" 
concept is developed. 

As a result partly of rational thought, but largely also because of 
the friction, antagonism and pain developing in the social and natural 
struggle, the concept of the "I" as contrasted with the concept of 
others and of the surrounding world, develops. The "I" is the indi- 
viduality in the psychical-social sense. [8, 620, italics ours] 

8. The changes in ego relationships that result from lobotomy 
and lobectomy demonstrate in a crucial way the close functional 
relationship between ego formation and ego functioning on the 
one hand, and, on the other hand, psychological functioning on 
a conceptual level. Further evidence of the dependence of ego 
formation on psychological functioning at the conceptual level is 
found in observations of persons who have lost both their ego 
relationships and their abstract (conceptual) functioning follow- 
ing certain injuries to the frontal lobes whose tremendous devel- 
opment in the human species gives man his unique ability to 
function psychologically on an abstract conceptual level. Evi- 
dence concerning these two points is found later in Chapter 12 
on pages 425 ff. and 431 ff. 

How to account for ego-striving. If ego-strivings do not have 
an instinctive basis in the sense of hunger and sex needs or drives, 
how are psychologists to account for these ego-strivings with all 
their rich affective halo, their emotional warmth, and their vary- 
ing intensity? As we indicated in the introduction, a detailed 
account of motivation as it relates to social psychology cannot be 
treated here. And the more precise role of ego-striving in the 
whole network of instinctive behavior, reflexes, habits, primary 


and derived drives, personality traits, frustrations, and the like, 
is being deliberately reserved for later discussion. In this book we 
are concerned chiefly with the place of the ego in systematic social 

We have already indicated the main outline of our position. 
We can summarize it briefly again here. The evidence we have 
already presented, together with that to follow, gives us some- 
what the following picture: our major psychological activities 
our perception, judgment, remembering, and so on take place 
in referential frameworks. The ego is no exception to this general 
rule. We learn (or sometimes determine) what values, goals, 
standards, or norms are desirable for us. These become incorpo- 
rated as our values, our goals. The referential framework of the 
ego is therefore these values, goals, standards, or norms which have 
become our major attitudes, which have become so large a part 
of what we refer to as me. These values, goals, standards, or 
norms which become our attitudes are represented by, set by, or 
created by group activities and social situations that form the con- 
stellation of social relationships with which we come in contact. 
Major attitudes are thus derived from groups to which we learn 
to relate ourselves or which we regard ourselves as members of: 
reference groups, membership groups. My identification and 
allegiances, my status and position are determined with respect to 
these reference and membership groups. If I can relate myself 
securely to these reference groups, 7 feel secure in my general 
status, insofar as the values of the reference groups themselves are 
compatible. If I can anchor myself securely in a membership 
group, / feel secure in my more specific membership position. 
Although we may have a very clear knowledge of what the norms 
of the larger society or of more specific groups are, mere knowl- 
edge of these norms does not necessarily in itself induce identifica- 
tions. When we discuss the "deviant" behavior of gang members 
we shall find clear evidence that norms must serve the function of 
helping us place ourselves in social relationships, must offer us the 
possibility (consciously or unconsciously) of acquiring, maintain- 
ing, or enhancing our status before they become ours (ch. 10). 

These reference and membership groups not only set for us the 
values or norms that become our attitudes: they further make con- 


stant demands on our loyalties as time goes on. Some of these 
loyalties change with age as we shift our identifications. This will 
be most strikingly brought out when we discuss ego formation and 
re-formation in adolescents (ch. 9). Other loyalties change under 
the impact of new situations (chs. 10, 11). But whoever a person 
may be and whatever social milieu surrounds him, what he learns 
to regard as his loyalty, his purpose, his ambition, his striving to 
gratify basic needs or drives is affected, regulated, or directed in a 
major way by the referential framework that has become so large 
a part of him in the course of his social development. Ego-striv- 
ing, then, is the individual's effort to place himself securely in 
those constellations of human relationships that represent for him 
desirable values, that will make his status or position secure. 

Owing to individual differences in characteristics such as tem- 
perament, ability, or energy there are enormous and important 
differences in the manner, persistence, and intensity in which ego- 
striving proceeds. And the relative position which will be re- 
garded as personally satisfying to an individual is determined by 
such individual differences, as well as by the specific values he has 
learned. However, the important fact for social psychologists to 
remember is that these individual differences all function within 
the framework of norms prescribed by the reference or member- 
ship groups. Equally healthy, energetic, intelligent, resourceful 
people, endowed with similar temperamental characteristics and 
with similar glandular structure would inevitably manifest differ- 
ent, perhaps quite opposite, ego-strivings according to the differing 
or contrasting referential frameworks in which their strivings took 


1. CANTRIL, H., The Psychology of Social Movements, New York: Wiley, 1941. 

2. ENGELS, F., The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State, New 

York: International, 1942, first published 1884. 

3. HEALY, W., and A. F. BRONNER, New Light on Delinquency and Its Treatment, 

New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, copyright 1936. 

4. HUXLEY, J., Man Stands Alone, New York: Harper, copyright 1927. 

5. KATZAROFF, D., Contribution a Petude de la recognition, Arch, de Psych., 11, 

1911, 1-78. 

6. KOFFKA, K., Principles of Gestalt Psychology, New York: Harcourt, grace, 1935. 


7. LINTON, R., The Study of Man: An Introduction, New York: Applcton-Century, 

copyright 1936, student's ed. 

8. LOEB, L., The Biological Basis of Individuality, Springfield: Thomas, copyright 


9. LOWIE, R. H., Kinship, in Encyclopaedia of the Social Sciences, New York: 

Macmillan, 1932, 8, 568-72. 

10. LUMPKIN, K. DuP., The Family: A Study of Member Roles, Chapel Hill: 

Univ. N. Carolina Press, copyright 1933. 

11. MEAD, M. (ed.), Cooperation and. Competition among Primitive Peoples, New 

York: McGraw-Hill, 1937. 

12. MORGAN, L. H., Ancient Society or Researches in the Lines of Human Progress 

from Savagery through Barbarism to Civilization, New York: Holt, 1877. 

13. MURPHY, G., L. B. MURPHY, and T. NEWCOMB, Experimental Social Psychol- 

ogy, New York, Harper, copyright 1937. 

14. RADCLIFFE-BROWN, A. R., The study of kinship systems, Presidential Address, 

/. Roy. Anthropol Inst. of Great Britain and Ireland, 1941, 71, parts I and II. 

15. RIVERS, W. H. R., History of Melanesian Society, Cambridge, England: Univ. 

Press, 1914, vols. I and EL 

16. SCHRODINGER, E., What Is Life?, New York: Macmillan, copyright 1945. 

17. SHERIF, M., The Psychology of Social Norms, New York: Harper, 1936. 

18. STERN, B. J., The family and cultural change, Am. Sociol. Rev., copyright 

1939, 4, 199-208. 

19. STERN, W., General Psychology, Prom the Personalistic Standpoint, trans, by 

H. D. Spoerl, New York: Macmillan, 1938. 

20. WALLON, H., Les Origines du caractere chez I' enfant, Paris: Presses Universi- 

taires de France, 1933. 

21. WARDEN, C, J,, The Emergence of Human Culture, New York: Macmillan, 

copyright 1936. 


We have said that what an individual comes to regard as himself 
is a genetic development, a product of learning. In the normal 
course of affairs, the components of the ego include the individual's 
body and physical characteristics; the things he learns belong to 
him, such as his clothes, his toys, his keepsakes, his room, his hut, 
his house, his mother, his sweetheart, his children; together with 
a whole host of social values he also learns and with which he 
identifies himself his country, his politics, his language, his man- 
ner of dressing, the characteristics of his particular society. 

In spite of the relative similarity of the norms to which an 
individual in a given society or a group may be exposed, the con- 
tent of any single individual's ego, what he regards as himself, is 
a rather distinct constellation of social and personal values that 
vary not only in their number and nature but also in the intensity 
with which they are held. Within the range of individual differ- 
ences due to variations in instinctual drive, ability, and tempera- 
ment, the similarity of the content of individual egos will increase, 
of course, with the uniformity of the situations, experiences., or 
norms to which an individual is exposed. 

These contents of the ego, these things, persons, ways of con- 
ducting oneself, social norms of various kinds, provide for the 
individual the standards of judgment or frames of reference which 
determine to such an important degree his social behavior and 
reactions. And when any stimulus or situation is consciously or 
unconsciously related to them by the individual, we can say there 
is "ego-involvement." Thus, the ego in its various capacities enters 
in as an important determinant which may color, modify, or alter 
our experiences and behavior in almost any situation. For our 
standards, our values, our goals and ambitions, our ways of doing 

things have become involved. We feel elated, restricted, gratified, 



supported, disturbed, or insecure, in these ego-involving situations. 

This ego-involvement can and does range from what may be a 
temporary moderate involvement in a laboratory experiment with 
some task to be performed where we feel that somehow our 
capacities or abilities are at stake, to complex social situations in 
which we feel involved, because of some threat to, or enhance- 
ment of, our position as a member of some gang, group, or class 
we identify ourselves with. 

In recent years the fact of ego-involvements has been demon- 
strated experimentally in the laboratory and in other controlled 
investigations concerned with more everyday life situations. We 
are citing some of these studies here to show that the concept of 
ego-involvement can be and has been successfully verified under 
the rigorous controls imposed by scientific method. 1 


In one of his characteristic insights as a psychologist, James 
pointed out in his Principles (1890) that our "self -feeling" is de- 
termined by the "ratio of our actualities to our supposed poten- 
tialities." [35] 

I, who for the time have staked my all on being a psychologist, am 
mortified if others know much more psychology than I. But I am 
contented to wallow in the grossest ignorance of Greek. My defi- 
ciencies there give me no sense of personal humiliation at all. Had I 
"pretensions" to be a linguist, it would have been just the reverse. 
So we have the paradox of a man shamed to death because he is only 
the second pugilist or the second oarsman in the world. That he is 
able to beat the whole population of the globe minus one is nothing; 
he has "pitted" himself to beat that one; and as long as he doesn't do 
that nothing else counts. He is to his own regard as if he were not, 
indeed he is not. 

Yonder puny fellow, however, whom every one can beat, suffers no 
chagrin about it, for he has long ago abandoned the attempt to "carry 
that line," as the merchants say, of self at all. With no attempt there 
can be no failure; with no failure no humiliation. So our self-feeling 

1 A comparatively early and important recognition of the fact of ego-involve- 
ment was made by Murphy, Murphy, and Newcomb when in 1937 they grouped 
a number of different experiments together in their discussion of the ego. [50] 


in this world depends entirely on what we bac\ ourselves to be and do. 
It is determined by the ratio of our actualities to our supposed poten- 
tialities; a fraction of which our pretensions are the denominator and 

the numerator our success: thus, Self-esteem = - : . Such a 


fraction may be increased as well by diminishing the denominator as 
by increasing the numerator. To give up pretensions is as blessed a 
relief as to get them gratified. . . . [35, 310 f.] 

Baldwin, writing in 1897, noted that a man's "opinion of others 
must be referred to the same standards by which he judges him- 
self" [5, 79], whereas Cooley, in 1902, acknowledging his debt to 
James and Baldwin, wrote that 

The thing that moves us to pride or shame is not the mere mechani- 
cal reflection of ourselves, but an imputed sentiment, the imagined 
effect of this reflection upon another's mind. This is evident from 
the fact that the character and weight of that other, in whose mind 
we see ourselves, makes all the difference with our feeling. We are 
ashamed to seem evasive in the presence of a straightforward man, 
cowardly in the presence of a brave one, gross in the eyes of a refined 
one, and so on. [15, 184] 

In other words, James, Baldwin, and Cooley, in the comparatively 
early days of psychology, saw the referential nature of judgments, 
recognized that these were anchored in the ego. 

These early observations are of more than mere historical inter- 
est. Contemporary psychoanalysts explicitly relate their modern 
formulations of neuroses to James's descriptions of the "social self." 
For example, Karen Horney, writing in 1939, states that 

To some extent everyone living in an organized community must 
keep up appearances. To some extent every one of us has imbibed 
the standards of the environment. To some extent we are all depend- 
ent on the regard others have for us. [32, 216 f.] 

And she notes that 

William James has said that to give up pretensions is as blessed a 
relief as to have them gratified; judging from observations in analysis 
the relief resulting from giving them up seems to be the greater of 
the two. [32, 231] 


And the considerable experimentation conducted in the past 15 
years on what has become known as the level of aspiration is given 
a theoretical framework by these earlier writers. 

In Hoppe's [31] experiment on the level of aspiration (1930) 
we have a demonstration that levels of aspiration are essentially 
ego-involving frames of reference or anchoring points. Success 
and failure are determined with respect to subjectively established 
scales: subjects adjust their level of aspiration according to the 
degree of success on previous performances; if the level of per- 
formance is outside the range of the level of aspiration (either 
above or below it), there is no experience of success or failure. 
The systematic implication that the level of aspiration can and 
must be regarded as an instance of a frame of reference within 
which ego levels are set was not made in Hoppe's original formu- 
lation, but further evidence for such an interpretation has accumu- 
lated with subsequent work. 

Frank has demonstrated that when the level of aspiration is set 
within a frame of reference clearly involving the ego it is likely 
to differ from non-ego-involving levels of aspiration by being con- 
sistently higher than the level of past performance. 

Changes in the level of performance in one task affect the first level 
of aspiration in another even when the level of aspiration is solely an 
objective estimate, but can affect the remaining levels of aspiration 
only when the ego-level is involved in both tasks. [19, 170] 

Frank suggests that 

The size of the difference between the average level of aspiration 
and the median level of past performance is due to the involvement of 
the ego-level of the individual in the task, as shown by self-competi- 
tion or social pressure. [20, 293] 

He notes, too, in his 1941 summary, that, for some people, 

The level of aspiration may be used to help protect the ego from 
the effects of failure by being kept resolutely high despite poor per- 
formance. [21, 224] 

He further states: 

The level of aspiration situation is usually a threat to the subject's 
self-esteem in that he must not only exhibit his ability for some one 


else, but must openly commit himself as to his expectation of future 
achievement. . . . Involvement of the subject's self-esteem may often 
be inferred from tension, obvious effort to do well, acute awareness of 
the experimenter, and other signs that he regards his own "worth" as 
involved. [21, 223] 

A notable contribution to the conceptualization of the meaning 
of the term "level of aspiration" was made by Chapman and Volk- 
mann when they pointed out, as we mentioned earlier, that 

The conditions which govern the setting of a level of aspiration 
(Anspruchsniveau) , in the sense of an estimate of one's future per- 
formance in a given task, may be regarded as a special case of the 
effect upon a judgment of the frame of reference within which it is 
executed. [13,225] 

In chapter 4 we described their experiment in another connec- 
tion. It may be recalled that some of their experimental groups 
were given in advance of the task (recognition of various authors 
of literary passages) the score supposedly made by other groups 
which varied in their prestige such as literary critics and WPA 
workers. The result here was that those who compared them- 
selves to a superior group lowered their aspiration level, while 
those who compared themselves to an inferior group raised their 
aspiration level. In the second experiment the subjects were 
allowed two performances on a mental test before any attempt 
was made to change their level of aspiration by comparison of their 
results with those of various other groups. Under these condi- 
tions, there was no significant change in the level of aspiration. 

The subject's own previous scores provided the most effective an- 
choring. [13, 235] 

In addition to the information these experiments provide con- 
cerning the relative acceptance of imposed norms when the stimu- 
lus situation is variously structured, they demonstrate that whether 
a level of aspiration is socially imposed as it was in their first 
experiment, or whether it is based on some definite anchoring 
from past experience, it must be regarded as an ego-involving 
frame of reference. In the first experiment, a subject compares 
himself with others of a superior or inferior position, using his 


own status as an anchoring point. In the second experiment, 
where judgments of future performance were based on past ex- 
perience, the individual identifies himself with his own past per- 
formance and, as the authors point out: 

What the subject has himself accomplished with labor is likely to 
have "ego value"; it means more to him than does the verbally re- 
ported accomplishment of someone else. The subject accepts his own 
work with satisfaction if it seems to be of high grade; he may still 
accept it, under the protection of some rationalization, if it seems to be 
of low grade. In the second place, the subject's previous scores pro- 
vide the most objective basis for predicting his future ones, and the 
subject will use this basis if he values objectivity. [13, 235] 

Since the subjects were college graduates and students in extension 
courses in psychology, the authors' assumption that objective esti- 
mates will have some ego value seems entirely plausible. 

In 1940 Sears went farther than anyone had to date in making 
explicit what lay beyond the "level of aspiration" and why it in- 
volved the ego. After noting Frank's observations that ego-in- 
volvement may be either a matter of "self-competition" where the 
individual attempts to maintain his status or due to "an aware- 
ness of social pressure," and after calling attention to Gould's in- 
vestigations [23] which pointed out the importance of knowing 
an individual's attitudes and the different meanings tasks might 
have for different individuals or for the same individual in dif- 
ferent situations, Sears formulates her problem in such a way as 
to bring these variables together systematically and to relate them 
to social norms which can and do become interiorized as ego- 
involving frames of reference. 

Such differences in the individual's perception of the task in relation 
to himself may be considered to have been built up in somewhat the 
following fashion: the child is informed, by example and precept of 
prestigeful persons, as to what are the valued activities in the particular 
culture or subculture of which he is a member. These values, incor- 
porated in the ego, become reference points for self-judgments of 
success or failure; that is, the child cannot succeed or fail in an activ- 
ity which has for him no ego value. In those activities in which he 
has ego-involvement, he can, and does, succeed and fail [57, 499] 


Scars set out to test the "reasonable assumption" that "differences 
in success will influence the individual's anticipation of future 
gratification in the further performance" of tasks possessing ego 

She chose as her subjects children of fourth, fifth, and sixth 
grade standing where "cultural pressures toward achievement are 
exerted on the child from all sides in this field." [500] Or, as 
Sears puts it, a child in the age range of 9 to 12 has "had sufficient 
experience in school to form definite attitudes with respect to his 
excellence of performance in the academic work." Her experi- 
mental group consisted of a "success" group of children who had 
had uniformly high academic standing, a "failure" group, and a 
"differential" group composed of children who had been suc- 
cessful in reading and unsuccessful in arithmetic. Reading and 
arithmetic tasks were assigned and were given as speed tests. 
There were three experimental conditions: the first a rieutral one, 
the second a "success-conditioned" where children were highly 
praised for their work no matter what it was objectively, and the 
third a "failure-conditioned" where children, irrespective of their 
performances, were told they had made many mistakes and gone 
very slowly with respect to other members of the group. 

She found that 

Self-confident, successful children react to the level of aspiration 
situation in a similar way, whereas unsuccessful children, lacking in 
confidence, may adopt one of a number of different behavior tech- 
niques in this situation. Furthermore, experimentally induced success 
brings the reactions of all subjects in regard to level of aspiration into 
a more homogeneous distribution than do the neutral conditions of 
stimulation. [57, 526] 

Experimentally induced success provides social norms for the indi- 
vidual which induce him to believe that he has been and is performing 
much better than the average . . . similarly, experimentally induced 
failure provides a condition of insecurity for the subjects of all groups. 

Sears points out the link made by Chapman and Volkmann be- 
tween the level of aspiration and the effect of a frame of refer- 


cnce on judgment and goes on to show that the level of aspiration 
is set with respect to "the perceived social norms." [529] She con- 
cludes that 

The cultural pressure to excel and to keep the performance improv- 
ing, plus the cognizance of the position of the self relative to social 
norms, seem to account for most of the results obtained in the present 
investigation. [57, 528] 

The earlier studies of Greenberg in 1932 [25] and Rosenzweig 
in 1933 [55] furnish experimental evidence that the level of aspira- 
tion with its involvement of the ego does not appear genetically 
until the child has formed some conception of his "self," has de- 
veloped a sense of "pride," or of status which he feels he must 
maintain within a group. "Success" and "failure" in the accom- 
plishment of various assigned tasks are meaningless until the ego 
is sufficiently developed to serve as a basic anchorage. Anderson 
and Brandt [3] studied the levels of aspiration of fifth grade 
children for performances when each child knew his own pre- 
vious score, his standing in the group, and the group norm. 
Since no child knew the scores made by any other specific child, 
direct "social pressure" and "competition" were minimal. In this 
situation, the explicit norm of the group served as an anchorage 
for judgments of future performances. The investigators report 
that "the goals or levels of aspiration of these children tended to 
converge on what for the group was mediocrity." [231] Other 
results were contrary to Frank's definition of failure as a level of 
performance below the level of aspiration "regardless of its abso- 
lute goodness." The children in this study who won scores in 
the lower quartile tended to set their goals "considerably above 
their achievement, whereas in the upper ranks of performance 
the tendency is just the reverse." [220] As the authors concluded: 
"The goals of these children are related to the 'goodness' of past 
achievement." [225] And, as we have seen, they are also related 
to the past achievement of the group. The average performance 
of this group of children improved significantly more during a 
series of trials than did those of a control group who knew 
neither their own score nor their ranking in the group. 

In their study of the effect of relative standing in an experimen- 


tal social group to the level of aspiration, Hilgard, Sait, and 
Magaret [28] found a tendency for those whose performance was 
above the group norm to estimate their future performance too 
low, whereas those whose performances were lower than the group 
norm tended to overestimate their future performance. Since the 
estimates of future performances of one subject were not known 
to the other subject, the experimenters conclude that "group pres- 
sure can be used to explain the tendency to estimate towards the 
mean of the group only if the desire for social conformity is some- 
how internalized." [421] 

Several studies have been reported which show that unless and 
until there is some ego-involvement no level of aspiration is set 
and the individual has no concern about his own status. Only 
when an individual judges his own performance in terms of a 
standard he wants to maintain or achieve, does any generality in 
levels of aspiration appear with respect to various tasks. Klein 
and Schoenfeld [41] found that, when their subjects were in a 
neutral non-ego-involving atmosphere, the confidence they had in 
their ability to perform various tasks depended almost entirely on 
the nature and difficulty of the tasks themselves, whereas in defi- 
nitely ego-involving situations (where subjects were told their 
scores would be sent to the personnel bureau of the college) a 
"generality of confidence" appeared. That the subjects did actu- 
ally feel personally involved in the second part of the experiment 
is indicated by the report that in the second situation they exerted 
greater effort and experienced considerable anxiety. In this ex- 
periment the person obviously becomes involved because perform- 
ance of the task is believed to have relevance to a value already 
interiorized as part of the ego, namely, attendance and gradua- 
tion from college and a respectable standing with college author- 

Holt [30] found that, if his subjects had any ego-involvement 
in the abilities needed to perform his experimental task, the esti- 
mates thus made of their performances were determined signifi- 
cantly less by the objective situational variables than when there 
was little ego-involvement. If there is less ego-involvement, "a 
level of aspiration is of a piece with the total response to the situa- 
tion of the experiment; in that sense it is more specific, more 


peripheral and responsive to outer environmental forces." [314] 
Heathers' [26] study of generality in the level of aspiration points 
to the same conclusion. In a study of saturation with tasks after 
repeated performance, Karsten discovered in 1928 [37] that her 
subjects became more rapidly saturated (annoyed, impatient, emo- 
tionally upset) with tasks judged to be very pleasant or very un- 
pleasant than with indifferent tasks or those only mildly pleasant 
or unpleasant. As Koffka concludes from this experiment "the 
relation of the task to the Ego is the decisive factor. In the indif- 
ferent task the Ego is not 'engaged/ with the result that Ego ten- 
sions are less easily produced." [42, 412] 

In an ingenious experiment where pairs of subjects worked to- 
gether, one performing a task and estimating his performance 
ahead of time, the other estimating what his partner would do, 
McGehee [49] found considerably less variability among the levels 
of aspiration of those actually involved in the task than in the 
estimates of the observers. McGehee concludes that this difference 
"seems to lie in the fact that the ego-levels of the subjects are more 
involved in the erection of levels of aspiration than in making a 
judgment." [14] This distinction between level of aspiration and 
judgment obscures the relationship between them and violates 
what we know of the process of judgment itself, namely, that all 
judgments take place within some frame of reference. The esti- 
mates of McGehee's subjects who were actually engaged in the 
tasks are obviously just as much judgments as the estimates of the 
observers. But, whereas one set of judgments is based upon frames 
or anchorages that are ego-involved, the other set of judgments 
is based on non-ego-involved frames or anchorages and is there- 
fore more determined by immediate past performance of the par- 
ticipating partner or other variables in the situation itself. 


In chapter 4 we cited some of the studies that show the close 
relationship between memory and frame of reference. In all these 
studies dealing with everyday life material, it is clear that the in- 
vestigators were concerned with ego-involving attitudes attitudes 
that have been learned, largely as social values; that the individual 


identifies himself with, and makes a part of himself; and that have 
affective properties of varying degrees of intensity. Thus, the 
effect Seeleman [58] found of the attitude toward the Negro on 
the memory of pictures of whites and Negroes clearly provokes 
a value judgment with which most Americans at the present time 
identify themselves in one way or another and in different degrees 
of intensity. Zillig's well known study [66] of the differential 
ability of men and women to recall items favorable to their own 
sex implicitly involves or reflects sex differences in ego composi- 
tion as learned. Edwards [17, 18] showed the superior recogni- 
tion of items favorable to a political point of view which the 
individual espouses and the extent to which an individual ration- 
alizes answers to factual statements not in harmony with his atti- 
tude, implicitly demonstrating what is common knowledge, 
namely, that in the contemporary United States, an individual 
regards the party he votes for as his party, party platforms as his 
expressed point of view, and party candidates as his candidates. 
Similarly, the results of Levine and Murphy [43] showed that 
both the learning and forgetting of material favorable to or against 
the Soviet Union is affected by one's attitude toward Communism, 
is most definitely concerned with ego-involved attitudes, as any- 
one can testify who observes the identification an individual Com- 
munist makes with Marxism or the Communist Party, or who 
has seen the emotional involvement of those who oppose Com- 
munism as something which threatens "all that they hold dear." 
Birch [6] also noted the definite tendency for his subjects who 
approved a statement labeled "communist" to write more com- 
ments than usual, dissociating themselves from Communism as 
such or otherwise qualifying their answers. 

Wallen's experiments in 1941 [63, 64] yielded clear-cut evidence 
that the selective forgetting of ego-involved material differs sig- 
nificantly from the selective forgetting of material unrelated to 
the ego. Subjects were given a list of adjectives on which they 
made self -evaluations. They were then divided into two groups: 
one group was later given orally a list of bogus ratings on the 
same adjectives supposedly made by some acquaintance on the 
subject; the other group was later given bogus ratings but were 
told these were ratings on unidentified people. His results showed 


that the recall of the former group was significantly higher than 
the latter. In the former group bogus ratings which agreed with 
the subject's own evaluation were considerably better remembered 
than others, whereas in the second group no such tendency oc- 
curred: those who had bogus ratings on themselves recalled de- 
sirable ratings more accurately than those they regarded as un- 
desirable, so much so that the final recall was actually much more 
like the original list of self-evaluations than the material actually 
presented for recall. Wallen believed that "the difference in in- 
structions for the two groups can be cogently interpreted only in 
ego terms" [64, 36] and that "some assumption regarding an ego 
is needed in interpreting our results." [36] A later experiment 
by Shaw and Spooner [59], again involving a list of adjectives on 
which a specified person was to be rated, bogus ratings, and de- 
layed recall, found superior recall of the adjectives in line with the 
subject's own initial characterization or judgments. 

These results are comparable in their implications to the con- 
clusions reached by Wolff [65] and Huntley [33] in their studies 
of judgments of expressive behavior (voice recording, handwrit- 
ing, profiles, and the like). They found their subjects generally 
made much more favorable judgments of samples of their own 
expressive behavior and that in nearly all cases judgments of one's 
own behavior or features took on the characteristics of an extreme 
reaction, even though few of the subjects consciously recognized 
which behavior or feature presented was their own. Such experi- 
ments demonstrate in a significant way that an individual's body 
and his physical personal characteristics constitute an integral part 
of his ego. 

In a study of repression, Rosenzweig [56] set up his experiment 
so that one group would be "aroused in a personal way" whereas 
the other group was in a relatively neutral situation. Both groups 
were asked to recall tasks they had been assigned, only half of 
which they had been allowed to complete. Differences in recall 
were clear-cut: those who had become personally involved remem- 
bering more finished tasks, those not involved more unfinished. 
Similar findings were later reported by Lewis and Franklin. [45] 
Alper's results [2] show very neatly that retention and recall are 
considerably different for subjects who are or are not ego-involved 


(she uses the terms "ego-oriented" and "task-oriented") and that 
the three "classical" laws of learning she analyzed can be said to 
hold only when there is no ego-involvement. 2 

In his study of recognition, published in 1911, Claparede pointed 
out that "One must distinguish between two sorts of connections: 
those which establish themselves eventually between ideas, and 
those which establish themselves between the ideas and that which 
constitutes the Ego, the personality. In the case of purely passive 
or reflex association of ideas the first kind of connections will 
function alone; in the case of voluntary recall or of recognition, 
where the Ego is involved, the second kind would play its part." 8 
[14, 56] Koffka relates how he refused to take Claparede's for- 
mulations seriously in his own early thinking because the problem 
of the Ego was not prominent in psychology. After praising 
Claparede's insight and reviewing Claparede's theory as it related 
to his own conception of trace systems and the Ego, Koffka con- 
cludes that 

... in the structure of the behavioural environment there are things 
close to and remote from the Ego and even some that have practically 
no Ego-connection. According to the theory, and to all appearances in 
conformity with the facts, the former are better recognized than the 
latter. In many cases the Ego-object relationship will be, at least 
partly, due to the interests and attitudes of the Ego. Thus whatever 
has interested us, attracted our attention, is relatively easily recognized. 

And Koffka goes on to quote Maccurdy's contention that "The 
things we deny ever having done, in the face of ample testimony 

2 Alper concludes that ego-involved performances go beyond Ebbinghaus* three 
laws, whereas Bruner states that his results go beyond Weber's law (p. 75). 
Variations in other psychological functions (such as "social perception") are being 
obtained which go beyond classical laws in those fields. All these "going be- 
yonds" can be accounted for in a conceptual scheme if they are taken as special 
cases of referential frameworks with different factors (anchorages) coming into 
play to modify experiences one way or another. Likewise, the apparently contra- 
dictory variations sometimes obtained in level of aspiration experiments done 
under different conditions can be easily explained if they are seen as so many 
special cases of referential frames and different anchorages coming into play to 
produce the results. This point has been nicely formulated by Chapman and 
Volkmann (p. 121) and Pauline Sears (p. 122). 

8 This translated Quotation is taken from Koffka. [42, 5951 


from honest observers, are acts performed 'absent-mindedly,' auto- 
matically. Automatic behavior has no me-ness attached to it." [46, 

Those who try to account for learning on the basis of some 
relatively static conception may object that the differential learn- 
ing found in ego- versus non-ego-involved situations represents 
nothing more than the operation of different conditions of learn- 
ing, and that the introduction of "ego-involved" situations is there- 
fore quite unnecessary. We have emphasized that we regard the 
ego as a product of learning. And when the psychology of learn- 
ing is fully understood, we shall have much more precise knowl- 
edge of the ego's development than we do now. What the ex- 
periments on ego-involvement and memory show is the necessity 
of recognizing the fact that the learning situation is differently 
organized for the individual when he feels that he is somehow 
involved and that this organization, this interest determination or 
interest setting as Bartlett calls it, affects what will be learned and 
how learning will take place. 


In previous chapters we established the fact that attitudes are 
learned either as the result of direct contact with a person or a 
group or by means of transmission of social norms through short- 
cut verbal value judgments. We also pointed out that most atti- 
tudes of everyday life concerned with concrete social situations 
have affective and motivational properties of varying degrees. 
And we cited numerous studies which showed the effect of these 
attitudes on perception, judgment, and behavior. We pointed out 
that the affective properties of attitudes derived from noninstinc- 
tual sources is due to the fact that these attitudes were formed in 
relation to social values or norms which in themselves are stand- 
ardized affective fixations, (p. 20/.) 

We were careful throughout our earlier discussion of the prop- 
erties of attitudes to state that affect or emotional involvement was 
of varying degrees. It is obvious that a sophisticated Negro who 
has suffered job discrimination will follow the course of fair em- 
ployment legislation much more anxiously than a white person 


or another Negro who has only a mild hope that something can 
be, done to improve the status of Negroes. We know that, by and 
large, a big employer or major stockholder is more likely to take 
some overt action to counter union demands for higher wages 
than some relatively disinterested person whose attitude toward 
the union may, however, be just as unfavorable when judged from 
conversation or measured by an ordinary attitude scale. We have 
seen since the end of World War II how the Jews in the United 
States have taken the initiative in forming committees or groups 
of one kind or another to seek some kind of government or inter- 
governmental help for the tortured and displaced Jews of Europe, 
while many other Americans whose attitudes toward the European 
Jews may have been just as favorable as that of some of their Jew- 
ish countrymen did nothing more than read with a sigh accounts 
about these efforts of assistance. In such cases we say that "self- 
interest" is involved. And we mean by this that individuals iden- 
tify themselves with different degrees of intensity to various social 
causes, principles, ideals. In other words, the intensity with which 
we hold those attitudes formed in relation to social values or those 
personal attitudes formed in relation to particular surroundings 
or experiences depends on the degree to which those attitudes are 
ego-involved. Bruner's finding that poor children overestimated 
the size of coins more than rich children (p. 75) points to the 
fact that the value of coins as perceptual objects was clearly de- 
termined by ego-involving attitudes which varied in their intensity 
for the two groups of children. 

Studies concerned with the intensity of attitude and the relation 
of intensity to the content or direction of attitude can, it seems 
to us, only be interpreted by regarding the reference scale by means 
of which a person judges the relative importance to him of the 
attitudes he holds as ego-involved. This degree of ego-involve- 
ment, this intensity of attitudes, will determine in large part which 
attitudes he will cling to, how annoyed or frustrated he will feel 
when his attitudes are opposed, what action (within the range of 
his individual temperament and ability) he will take to further 
his point of view. 

In an attempt to draw a distinction between the intensity of an 
attitude and its direction and to determine the relationship of 


these two variables, Cantril [11] constructed two simple attitude 
scales, involving several alternatives which were rated by judges 
as to the place each alternative statement should occupy on an 
attitude continuum which ranged from most favorable to most 
unfavorable attitude. Two scales, one dealing with the attitude 
toward the Negro and the other with government regulation of 
business, were included in separate nationwide samples of 1200 
adult white people in the United States. After an individual had 
indicated the statement that best expressed his own point of view, 
he was asked how strongly he held this opinion very strongly, 
fairly strongly, or not caring much one way or the other. 

The results, shown in Charts 1 and 2, indicate that, the more 
extreme an attitude is in its direction, the more intensely it is 
likely to be held. 

Comparable results have been reported by Stouffer and his asso- 
ciates in their work with the Information and Education Division 
of the Army Service Forces [61]. These investigators used a bat- 
tery of different questions to construct a scale on the "content" 
of an attitude and then measured the intensity (or certainty) of 
opinion. These scales were administered to Army populations. 
Their results, too, show that intensity is highly correlated with the 
extremity of an attitude. "A series of questions which form both 
a content and an intensity scale, will produce an invariant U-shaped 
curve." [4] This U-shaped curve, seen in the charts, may tend to 
err on the conservative side, in view of the fact that the results 
were obtained by the usual interviewing method where the inter- 
viewer asks the respondent his opinion. From comparisons of 
opinions obtained with comparable samples when "secret," as op- 
posed to "nonsecret," ballots are used, we know that there is a 
tendency for people to answer in the direction of what they re- 
gard as the socially approved norm when asked their opinion on 
nonsecret ballots dealing with controversial issues. This tendency 
to conformity on the nonsecret ballot is itself obviously a further 
demonstration of the fact that individuals feel themselves per- 
sonally involved in expressions of their opinions and seek to raise 
their status in the eyes of the interviewer. This tendency was 
significantly revealed, for example, in the finding that 13 per cent 






\J 6 * 



0123456789 10 
Unfavorable Favorable 

CHART 1. Direction and intensity of opinion toward the Negro. 








0123456789 10 
Unfavorable Favorable 

CHART 2. Direction and intensity of opinion toward Government ownership. 


more of the secret ballot group than of the interviewed group 
stated that they Jiad no schooling. [62] 

It is the intensity with which an attitude is held, the degree of 
ego-involvement it has for the individual, that in large part de- 
termines the consistency of opinion, the tendency to discern the 
relationship of a variety of specific issues to some basic frame of 
reference. Katz' analysis [39] of public opinion poll results ob- 
tained before Pearl Harbor shows that those Americans who 
strongly believed we should help England even at the risk of 
getting into the war ourselves were more consistent in other re- 
lated attitudes than those who shared this opinion but did not 
hold it so intensely. A scale constructed to measure the intensity 
of political interest rather sharply distinguished voters from non- 
voters and aided in the prediction of the political behavior of 
various groups. [10, 191 f.] Postman and Zimmerman [53] have 
shown that, the more intensely an attitude is held, the shorter is 
the decision time of judgments based on that attitude. 


We have stated that one important reason why attitudes are 
affectively charged is the fact that many attitudes prescribe the 
individual's relationship, status, or role with respect to other in- 
dividuals or groups (such as teacher, worker, boss, minister, assist- 
ant). And experiences connected with status are affectively 
charged (p. 21). We pointed out further that attitudes related 
to role or status are ego-involved. 

In his discussion of the "social" self, James made it quite clear 
that status identification often determines behavior in everyday 
life. It is a man's 

. . , image in the eyes of his own "set," which exalts or condemns 
him as he conforms or not to certain requirements that may not be 
made of one in another walk of life. Thus a layman may abandon a 
city infected with cholera; but a priest or doctor would think such an 
act incompatible with his honor. A soldier's honor requires him to 
fight or to die under circumstances where another man can apologize 


or run away with no stain upon his social self. . . . The thief must 
not steal from other thieves; the gambler must pay his gambling debts, 
though he pay no other debts in the world. [35, 294 /.] 

In later chapters we will see how an individual identifies him- 
self with and regards as a part of himself the particular constella- 
tion of values he learns from his environment. On the basis of 
this learning the individual defines his own role or status: he 
learns what group or groups he belongs to; what other groups 
are regarded as "higher" or "lower" than his own; what groups 
are to be regarded as enemies, antagonists, or competitors; what 
as allies, helpers, or friends. For example, the behavior of the 
American GJ. abroad during and after World War II often em- 
phasized in striking fashion to people in foreign countries the 
status roles defined by their own norms. Hilgard has reported 
some of his observations made during the spring of 1946, of the 
effect of G.I. behavior on the Japanese: 

Japanese etiquette requires courtesy to those above you in status, 
and does not demand much consideration between equals. . . . The 
lack of regard for status, foreign to the Japanese, is admired. GJ.'s 
like to ride in rickshaws, for the novelty of the experience, but they 
are just as likely to have a little fun pulling one. This sort of be- 
havior would be unheard of among Japanese, but it is not found 
repugnant. [29, 347] 

The same American GJ.'s would, of course, probably find their 
ideas of status violated by any behavior on their own home ground 
that deviated from discrimination concerning race, class, or sex 
prescribed by norms of their own. 

We have already mentioned a number of experiments concerned 
with the effect an individual's place in a group has on his level 
of aspiration. A considerable body of data has by now accumu- 
lated from other controlled studies which further emphasize the 
fact that a person defines his role, his status, his class, on the basis 
of the anchorage provided him by values which he has made part 
of himself. By means of these anchorages he makes relevant 
judgments both of his own place in society and the place of 


An especially revealing demonstration of such an anchorage is 
the study of Marks [48] on Negro judgments of skin color and 
personal attractiveness. Following up by controlled experimenta- 
tion Johnson's field observations [36] that the judgments of Negro 
youth on the skin colors of other Negroes tended to depend upon 
the rater's own skin color and his observation that more favorable 
characteristics tended to be associated with lighter colors, Marks 
had each student in his class (all Negroes) rate every other student 
on certain characteristics including skin color, personal charm, 
desire to know the person well, on an eight-point scale. He found 
a high correlation between ratings on lightness of skin color and 
ratings on personal charm and "a tendency to displace the ratings 
of subjects considered attractive in the direction of the preferred 
color." [48, 376] Particularly important for our purposes here is 
the finding that the reference scale by means of which each sub- 
ject judged skin color was relatively 

. , . independent of the subjects rated but not of the rater's own 
past experience. It appears further that each judge's rating scale tends 
to be egocentric, Le. t a subject is seen as darker or lighter than the rater 
and judgments are made accordingly. In such a scale the relative 
position of each subject will be the same for the different raters but 
the absolute position of a given subject will vary from rater to rater. 
[48, 374, italics ours] 

Marks further points out that 

The relation between the judge's own skin color and his rating of 
others seems to have particular importance for the theory of social 
perception. The "egocentricity" of the reference scale of skin color 
judgments may well apply to judgments of any characteristic to which 
social value is attached, [375] 

The goal of neutral emotional content frequently involves a re- 
structuring of our social perceptual field. The individual minimizes 
his own deviation (slight or great) from the "normal" by displacing 
his perception of other individuals so that they are seen as above or 
below average in terms of their difference from himself, [48, 375] 

The subjects in these groups, Marks believed, were in large part 
striving to conform to an average or group norm in an attempt 
to regard themselves as inconspicuous, to achieve a "neutral emo- 


tional content" as discovered from their own past experience in 
the process of socialization. 

This investigation confirms in a particularly clear-cut way two 
points we should again emphasize: (1) in the process of genetic 
development the individual's physical body and its characteristics 
constitute an early and important part of the ego. Judgments of 
the physical characteristics of others (such as their height, their 
stoutness, their strength, their beauty) become, therefore, ego- 
involving judgments in which an individual uses himself or his 
own characteristics as a central point of reference (ch. 7). (2) If 
the stimulus field is relatively well-structured, has certain discern- 
ible and compelling objective properties, an individual's frame or 
scale is almost bound to be determined in part by them. Thus, as 
Marks indicates: 

The very dark individual cannot conceive himself as "neutral" in 
color because his social environment insists upon the "objective" facts. 
A compromise results, in which the deviation may be minimized 
(perceived as less extreme by the individual than it is by others) but is 
not ignored. [48, 375 f.] 

A significant study on the psychology of status is that of Hyman. 
[34] After learning from an intensive interview of each of his 
subjects something of the meaning, genesis, criteria of, and satis- 
faction with status, he constructed scales to measure subjective 
status along several dimensions: general status, economic, intel- 
lectual, cultural, social, and physical attractiveness. Subjects were 
also asked to indicate their subjective status with reference to 
different groups: the total adult population in the United States, 
friends and acquaintances, and their occupational group. He 
found that "within each status dimension an individual's judg- 
ment of his status shifts when reference groups are changed." [49] 
Among other results reported, the following are particularly sig- 
nificant for our purposes here: individuals strive for status with 
respect to those accomplishments or characteristics which they 
most highly value; when an individual's status is approximately 
similar to die status of the group he is using as a basis for com- 
parison, then he shows no particular concern for his own status, 
no great drive to achieve a higher status; persons who regard the 


difference between their own status and a reference group as being 
determined by a social system they disapprove of also show little 
dissatisfaction with their own status. 

Hyman emphasizes the contrast between subjective and objec- 
tive status: 

The variables of status are mediated through an individual who 
acts selectively in his choice of reference group, who strives selec- 
tively for status, whose personal values affect the composition of 
status and the emotional concomitants of a given status, whose con- 
ceptualization of a reference group may be different from its actual 
character, who is not affected by all aspects of the culture nor by all 
references in the environment. This essentially personal aspect of 
status cannot be ignored. We cannot deal with these variables inde- 
pendent of their meaning to individuals. [34, 80] 

This study clearly indicates that an individual's conception of his 
own status or the status of his group invariably depends upon the 
other groups to which he compares himself or his own group. In 
other words, he uses himself or his group as the anchoring point, 
and his own subjective status varies according to the scale pro- 

In chapter 4 we learned from several independent investigations 
[4, 40, 52] that individuals easily characterize various occupational 
groups and rank them according to a hierarchy based on the ac- 
cepted social norms established in our social organization. We 
saw from Davis' study [16] how children in Soviet Russia ranked 
occupations in quite a different way from the manner they are 
usually ranked in the United States: lawyers and bankers were 
rated low in Russia and skilled workers high. 

Gould and Lewis [24] found that an individual defines success 
differently when comparing himself to the supposed performance 
of college professors than when comparing himself with the sup- 
posed performance of WPA workers. Similar results were ob- 
tained by Hertzman and Festinger [27]. The experiment of 
Preston and Bayton [54] revealed that, although there was no 
difference in the level of aspiration of Negro college men when 
the experimental group was told it was competing with white 
men and the control group told it was competing with Negroes 


in other colleges, there was a clear indication that those who 
thought they were being compared with whites had considerably 
less confidence in themselves with respect either to the mainte- 
nance of past performance or the attainment of higher scores in 
the future. The ego-disturbance or ego-insecurity found here 
among those Negroes who believed their past performance was 
equal to that of a group generally regarded as "superior" is com- 
parable to the feeling of inferiority so commonly found in every- 
day life among those who, objectively, are as able, as good-looking, 
or as successful as certain other individuals with whom they com- 
pare themselves but who, in their eyes, seem superior because of 
various status affiliations. In a complementary study, Macintosh 
[47] found that when white subjects compared themselves with 
the hypothetical scores of Negroes they tended to raise their own 
estimates and showed greater confidence in their own abilities. 

Psychologists have only recently begun to study the problem of 
class identification in contemporary America. We have already 
referred to Kornhauser's pioneering attempt to compare the atti- 
tudes of individuals whose class placement might be inferred from 
the amount and source of their income or from their occupation 
(p. 75). Certain differences between the attitudes of members 
of the upper, middle, or lower class, as defined by objective cri- 
teria, did appear with respect to some social and political issues. 
But differences did not show up with reference to those attitudes 
which reflected in the 1930's the traditional American ideology of 
individual opportunity. 

In Cantril's study [9], based on a nationwide survey made in 
1941, a sample of the American adult population was asked the 
following two direct questions: "Which income group in our 
country do you feel that you are a member of the middle income 
group, the upper income group, or the lower income group?" and 
"To what social class in this country do you feel you belong 
middle class, or upper, or lower?" Only 3 per cent of over 3,000 
people interviewed were unable to place themselves in some social 
class, and only 1 per cent could not fit themselves into an economic 
class. That these questions were meaningful is further indicated 
by the reports of the interviewers who stated that they had no 
difficulty at all in getting the answers to the questions. 


The results showed that at that time, and with only these three 
alternatives provided for answers, almost nine tenths of the Ameri- 
can people identified themselves with the great middle class. This 
middle class tradition and ideology has its roots in frontier in- 
dividualism and in the relatively high standard of living provided 
in this country by natural resources and technological develop- 
ments and regarded as a middle class standard. Even 70 per cent 
of those who feel they are members of the lower income group 
still call themselves members of the middle social group. There 
is a strict correspondence between the two class identifications 
social and economic among only 54 per cent of the representa- 
tive population. As Veblen pointed out so strikingly in his Theory 
of the Leisure Class, there is a definite tendency for individuals to 
regard their social class within a frame of reference provided by 
the norms of their social system and frequently unsupported by 
the income necessary to solidify their own positions objectively in 
the social level they accept as their own. The greatest disparity 
between income and social identification is found among the low 
income groups, while those who placed themselves higher in the 
social scale tended to base their identification less on strictly eco- 
nomic criteria, using in addition to income such commonly ac- 
cepted values as family background, education, and professional 
accomplishments. It is clear from this preliminary study that 
nearly every adult American easily thinks of himself as a member 
of a class, that the great majority of Americans at that time rather 
uncritically identified themselves with the middle class which has 
for so long been the traditional bulwark of American ideology. 
Because of this middle class identification it is not surprising that 
Kornhauser found many inconsistencies in the attitudes people 
"logically" should have as members of different economic or occu- 
pational groups and the attitudes they actually do have. 

The most thorough psychological analysis to date of class struc- 
ture in America is that of Centers [12]. He carefully designed 
a questionnaire which would reveal subjective class identification, 
attitudes toward major economic and social issues, adherence to 
certain traditional conceptions of American ideology (for example, 
that this is a land of freedom and opportunity), occupation, re- 
ligious affiliation, nationality background, and the like. The ques- 


tionnaire was used in a public opinion survey in the summer of 
1945. Approximately 1,100 representative adult white men in the 
United States were personally interviewed. It should be remem- 
bered that Centers' survey was made before the end of World 
War II, that is, while both labor and management were still by 
and large submerging their differences in the interests of the war 

The question used by Centers to reveal subjective class identifi- 
cation included the additional category of "working" class. This 
wording makes possible a more accurate and objective class dif- 
ferentiation (and one apparently understandable by the popula- 
tion) in terms of relationship to the processes of production and 
exchange in contemporary society. 4 Centers' over-all national re- 
sults on class identification are as follows, to the question: "If you 
were asked to use one of these four names for your social class, 
which would you say you belonged in: the middle class, lower 
class, working class, or upper class?" 

Upper 3% 

Middle 43 

Working 51 

Lower 1 

Don't know 1 

Don't believe in classes 1 

This subjective identification with one of the four classes de- 
scribed correlates highly with an individual's economic status as 
judged by the interviewer (see Table 1). It is possible, then, to 
make a prediction of some reliability concerning class identifica- 
tion from an individual's income or standard of living. That 
those who identify themselves with the working class realize the 

4 The difference between Centers' findings and those already reported by Cantril, 
as well as other results of the same type found in surveys of the American 
Institute of Public Opinion and the Fortune poll provide an excellent example of 
the effect of the wording of questions on results obtained in public opinion surveys 
and the consequent need for caution in interpretation until issues or groupings 
have been variously sliced. In Centers' survey for example (had sufficient funds 
been available) it would have been revealing to substitute on a comparable sample 
of the population the word "laboring" for "working" class. Other obvious pos- 
sibilities also come to mind the use of categories such as "management," "white 
collar," "professional." 


relative uncertainty and precariousness of their jobs is revealed by 
Centers' finding that when asked which kind of job they would 
choose, those who put themselves in the working class gave as 
their most frequent reply "a job which you were absolutely sure 
of keeping," whereas those who put themselves in the middle class 
gave as their most frequent reply "a job where you could express 
your feelings, ideas, talent, or skill." 




Don't Believe 

Economic Status 






in Class 


Above average 















4 X V Wl <*W 

Below avcracc 







Particularly striking is the relationship found by Centers be- 
tween subjective class identification and objective status as defined 
by occupation. As Chart 3 shows, approximately three quarters of 
all manual workers, whether skilled, semiskilled, or unskilled, feel 
they belong to the wording class. 5 On the other hand approxi- 
mately the same proportion of business owners and managers and 
of professional people put themselves in the middle class. White 
collar workers, farm owners, and managers appear to have a 
somewhat more ambivalent position. The chart shows beyond 
any shadow of doubt that the American people do identify them- 
selves with a social class and that this identification is highly cor- 
related with the particular role they play in our highly indus- 
trialized society. 

A special study of foremen in American factories made by the 
Opinion Research Corporation in 1945 [51] shows that the ma- 
jority of them identify themselves with management rather than 
with the workers. Furthermore, of particular significance is the 
fact that, the longer the foremanship tenure, the greater is the 
tendency to identify with management rather than with labor. 
The study also shows that foremen who were former union mem- 
bers identify themselves with management almost as much as 

5 These charts were designed by Richard Centers. 


3 = 




those who had not been union members (57 per cent compared 
to 62 per cent). Foremen clearly occupy an ambivalent member- 
ship position in our social organization. What identification they 
may once have had with workers tends to disappear; their loyalties 
become relatively mixed; they are not part of management, yet 
they tend to identify themselves with those in the "top" positions 
of authority and control. 6 Table 2 shows the answers given by 
764 foremen to the question: "There are several views as to the 
place that foremen occupy in relation to management and the 



Foremanskip Tenure 




in Between 

Don't Know 

Under 2 years 






2-5 years 






Over 5 years 






No answer 


Total 764 59% 20% 20% 1% 

workers. Would you say that foremen are a part of management, 
or that they are more like workers?" 

The various occupational groups that members of the working 
and middle classes assign to their own class in Centers' study are 
shown in Charts 4 and 5. Charts 6 and 7 indicate some very 
significant aspects of class identification. Here there is a compari- 
son of the definitions given to the two major classes, middle and 
working, by each of two objectively different occupational strata. 
A striking fact is that though people may differ greatly in their 
objective status they define the class with which they identify 
themselves in essentially similar fashion. Middle class and work- 
ing class apparently means about the same thing to one stratum as 
to another. Yet it is noteworthy that the discrepancies that do 
occur in the contrasting conceptions of a given class are systemati- 
cally biased in favor of inclusion in the class of "members" of the 
individual's own occupational group. 

For a more detailed discussion of the status of foremen see [22]. 


As would be expected, reliable differences appear between the 
attitudes of working class and middle class members with respect 
to attitudes concerned with basic socioeconomic issues. Centers 
constructed a scale of radicalism-conservatism from six separate 
questions (such as giving the working people more power and 
influence in government, government ownership of industry, 
sympathy with workers versus employers in strikes). As Table 3 
indicates, those who are middle class are considerably more con- 
servative than the working class. Differences of opinion between 


Class Identification 

Attitude Position 





















100 467 100 564 

the working and middle class found by Centers are probably con- 
servative, in view of the facts that most public opinion interviewers 
are themselves members of the middle class, and we know from 
Katz' study [38] opinions reported by working class interviewers 
tended to be definitely more radical than those reported by middle 
class interviewers on working people. 

It is significant that, although the percentage of working class 
people who are defined in Centers' scale as conservatives is only 
about half as great as those defined as conservative in the middle 
class, there are still more working class people in the conservative 
than in the radical group. This demonstrates that class conscious- 
ness does not rapidly and spontaneously arise. It requires leader- 
ship and organization to transform a loose numerical class into a 
compact psychological class. It is therefore important to bear in 
mind the distinction between objective and subjective class differ- 
entiation. As of 1945, although a plurality of American men 
identified themselves with the working class, they can by no means 



be regarded as highly "class-conscious." A breakdown of radi- 
calism-conservatism by occupational groups shows, however, a 
clear tendency for conservatism to decrease and radicalism to in- 
crease as one goes "down" the occupational ladder (Chart 8). It 

Big business ownership 
and management 

Doctors and lawyers 

Small business ownership 
and management 

Store and factory managers 


Office workers 


Factory workers 


Waiters and bartenders 




| 48% 

?l& 82% 


I 55% 

CHART 4. Occupational composition of the working class based on working-class 
specifications of the occupational membership. 

is also noteworthy that the size of the undecided category increases 
as occupational status is lowered. Centers' data further show that 
within each occupational category, those who call themselves 
members of the working class are less conservative than those who 
identify themselves with the middle class. 

In brief, we have in Centers' study a demonstration of the fact 
that individuals in contemporary America do identify themselves 



with a social class, that this identification is largely determined by 
the objective relation or status they have with respect to the means 
of production and exchange in an industrial society, and that this 
identification tends to be accompanied by characteristic attitudes 

Big business ownership 
and management 

Doctors and lawyers 

Small business ownership 
and management 

Store and factory managers 


Office workers 


Factory workers 


Waiters and bartenders 



I 40% 

1 81% 







CHART 5. Occupational composition of the middle class according to the speci- 
fications of the middle class. 

related to the social organization which has imposed on people 
the particular role they have within it. 


In order to make our position quite clear, we cite some examples 
of the conclusions drawn by others who have recently reviewed 
the experimental literature on ego-involvement. 



In his discussion of The Ego in Contemporary Psychology 
(1943), G. W. Allport [1] brought together much of the recent 











I I 

I i .9- 

i- i f . 











Business/ professional, ' / 
and white collar -W 
working class definition / 










/ Manual workers 
/*- working class 
/ definition 









! ! I 

.>E B^i^^^ls 

CD Q 00 0700Ol2l2-35<7 

CHART 6. Comparison of two definitions of working class. 

experimental work and reaffirmed the validity of the concept of 
ego for modern psychology. But Allport's eclectic approach seems 
to us to have somewhat obscured the systematic psychological 



meaning the term should have. He distinguished eight differ* 
ent conceptions of the ego as held by psychologists and believes 




/ I / Manual workers 
/ IK middle class 
/ I/ definition 

Business, professional, 

and white collar 
middle class definition 

CHART 7. Comparison of two definitions of middle class. 

that there is experimental support for all eight of the capacities 
of the ego he reviewed, even though among the eight are such 
divergent and conflicting characterizations as "the ego as primitive 



selfishness," "the ego as dominance-drive," "the ego as a passive 
organization of mental processes," and "the ego as the subjective 
organization of culture." In criticizing our earlier discussion of 
the ego, he contended that the ego for us is "nothing but 'the 
social in man.' " [458] Although we have always maintained and 

Large business ownership 
and management 


Small business ownership 
and management 


11% 296 


19% 10% 


1796 896 





White collar workers 
Skilled manual workers 
Semiskilled manual workers 

Unskilled manual workers 


CHART 8. Radicalism-conservatism by occupation. 

still do maintain that social values constitute the major portion of 
the normal individual's ego, we have not equated the ego with 
nothing but social values. We have pointed out in previous 
publications that what can be described as "personal" values, as 
contrasted with "social" values can and often do constitute an 
important part of the egos of different individuals. 

For example, Sherif, in 1936, described personal fixations and 
evaluations. [60, 120 ff.] In his summary discussion of the ego he 

Values are the chief constituents of the ego. Among these, social 
values, which are socially established affective fixations, form the 


major (directive) part. These values are the social in man. [60, 185, 
italics not in original] 

Cantril [7] wrote in 1940 that the "ego of an individual is essen- 
tially composed of the many social and personal values he has 
accepted." [197 /.] And again, in 1941 [8], that 

Although we do conform in large measure to the common values 
of society and do desire a certain amount of social recognition, in 
addition to this and often much more important in terms of felt 
significance we cherish certain values which may be shared by our 
family circle, a few professional colleagues, a local community group, 
or a political party. And sometimes we cherish, as most important of 
all, those values which we have worked out for ourselves and thin\ of 
as our own. ... In such instances, we care about recognition only 
from a very few people, or the status we may want is status only in 
our own eyes. [8, 45 f italics not in original statements] 

Although Allport is critical of the interpretation of the "ego as 
the subjective organization of culture," still, in the last analysis, 
the weight of evidence brings him close to our position. He 
writes, for example, that "what an individual regards as himself 
is undeniably, in large part, socially determined." [1, 458] He 
states further that for the normal individual the "ego-system is 
made up of the ordinary values which spell out the significance 
of life to the individual." [470] 

Allport states further that values which cannot be characterized 
as "social" must be called "egoistic." 

If the ego is nothing but the "social in man," one wonders what to 
call all the anti-social impulses and the solitary strivings that are nor- 
mally called egoistic? [1, 458] 

This is more an ethical than a psychological characterization. And 
a mixture of ethics and psychology makes it difficult for psycholo- 
gists who want to use the term "ego" in a precise psychological 
way to show their colleagues they are not trying once more to 
bring into the discipline some modern version of the soul. The 
tendency to mix psychology and ethics, to relate the "self in some 
way to "selfish" interests, was criticized by Baldwin and Cooley 


around the turn of the century. Baldwin felt that any attempted 
equation was "quite beside the mark.'* [5] Cooley pointed out 
in 1902 that 

Self and other do not exist as mutually exclusive social facts, and 
phraseology which implies that they do, like the antithesis egoism 
versus altruism, is open to the objection of vagueness, if not of falsity. 
It seems to me that the classification of impulses as altruistic and 
egoistic, with or without a third class called, perhaps, ego-altruistic, is 
empty; and I do not see how any other conclusion can result from a 
concrete study of the matter. [15, 126 f.] 

Lewis also defines "ego" needs as "selfish" needs [44]. But she 
found from her own experiments on co-operative effort that such 
a definition was too limited, that subjects working together identi- 
fied themselves with one another so that each got satisfaction if 
the job at hand was satisfactorily completed, whether by one's 
self or one's partner. To interpret this finding, as Lewis has, as 
"task orientation" rather than "ego orientation" overlooks and con^ 
tradicts her own statements that in these co-operative situations 
" 'ego-boundaries' may include the needs of other selves or 'egos,' 
of groups, of ideals." [45, 214} Her experiment demonstrates 
nicely that there can be and is ego-involvement in co-operative 
effort as well as in restricted individualistic pursuits, 

A somewhat more recent review of experimental literature by 
Holt (1945) [30] shows the confusion that results from the at- 
tempt to get away from a formulation merely by creating a new 
terminology. Holt maintains that the common denominator of 
most meanings of ego-involvements is "self-esteem." But he goes 
on to say that he cannot use the term "self-esteem involvement" 
because it is too narrow to define all the functions that "comprise 
the ego." 

In summary, the experiments and controlled investigations re- 
ported all add up to substantiate further the position that the ego 
is a genetic formation made up of a host of personal and social 
values and that these values serve the individual as frames of ref- 
erence by means of which he makes those judgments that affect 
him; that define for him success and failure; that determine his 
loyalties and allegiances; that spell out what he conceives to be his 


role, his status, his class. Judgments and behavior resulting from 
this identification of oneself with a certain constellation of values 
we can properly term "ego-involved." "Ego-involvement" is a 
general descriptive term that can have many specific and more 
precise meanings (such as "ego-enhancement," "ego-gratification," 
"ego-frustration," "ego-support," "ego-misplacement," "ego-expan- 
sion," "ego-breakdown"), depending on the particular set of 
circumstances in which the ego is involved. 


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50, 451-78. 

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Am. J. Psychol., 1946, 59, 236-48. 

3. ANDERSON, H. H., and H. F. BRANDT, A study of motivation involving self- 

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5, 219-51. 

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Princeton: Univ. Press, 1944, ch. 13. 
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/. Abnorm. & Soc. Psychol., 1941, 36, 34-50. 

18. Rationalization in recognition as a result of a political frame of reference, 

/. Abnorm. & Soc. Psychol, 1941, 36, 224-35. 


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PsychoL, 1942, 30, 392-406. 

27. HERTZMAN, M., and L. FESTINGER, Shifts in explicit goals in a level of aspira- 

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/. Abnorm. & Soc. PsychoL, 1940, 35, 398-427. 

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We pointed out in chapter 5 that an individual's major attitudes 
are not discrete items in his psychological make-up. Attitudes 
define a person's identifications and status; determine to an im- 
portant degree his conformities and loyalties to his surroundings, 
to social groups and institutions. To a great extent, therefore, a 
person's experience of himself is related to these attitudinal ex- 
periences. In other words, the most important attitudes formed 
in relation to one's body, to surrounding objects, persons, institu- 
tions, and groups, are ego-attitudes. Inevitably one becomes some- 
how ego-involved when his intimate friends, his superior, his 
inferior, his family, his school, his church, or his flag are in ques- 
tion. Gratifications and frustrations connected with such persons, 
groups, or institutions are felt as ego-gratifications and ego-frus- 
trations. Attitudes which direct a person to try to outdo others in 
everything (competitiveness) or to live and work in harmony as a 
group member (co-operativeness) are ego-attitudes, developed by 
the norms of the social system in which he lives. 1 Whatever we 
can learn about these ego-attitudes should contribute to a real 
understanding of the "human nature" about which social scientists 
and politicians make hasty assumptions in an effort to justify their 
theories and practices. 

The more we study, the more we find that the ego (the self) 
consists mainly of those attitudes formed during the course of 
genetic development: attitudes related to one's body, parents, 
family, school, church, profession, property, class, and the like. 
As attitudes are formed (learned) in the course of genetic develop- 
ment, the ego is formed. Starting with the delimitation of one's 

1 We are not ignoring the fact that the intensity and expression of attitudes are, 
within limits, subject to individual variations. 



own body from surrounding objects, ego formation rapidly ex- 
pands by the learning of attitudes related to it (ego-attitudes), 
particularly after the acquisition of communicable language. This 
is repeatedly verified by empirical observations of child develop- 
ment, from the earliest to the most recent studies. Ego formation 
is not a mystic process. It can be readily detected in the behavior 
of the growing child. The social development a child has attained 
by the time he reaches school age is not the result of an automatic 
blossoming forth of some inherent natural endowment. In view 
of the persistence of philosophical speculations concerning the ego, 
it is gratifying to find this verification in fact. Indeed the psy- 
chology of the early period of ego formation seems to be one of 
the firmly established principles in the whole field of psychology. 
This is especially significant when we remember that the relevant 
observations were collected over a period of many years by ob- 
servers who were geographically separated and who had different 
theoretical inclinations. 

If this fact of ego formation, so well verified in almost every 
study on ego development, were given its due place in general 
books on child psychology and if its important implications for the 
process of socialization of the child were pointed out, it would be 
unnecessary for us to review here the ever-accumulating evidence 
concerning ego formation in a book on social psychology. But 
since the implications have not been systematically brought to- 
gether, we shall summarize here some representative studies, from 
Tiedemann, Preyer, and Shinn to those of present-day psycholo- 
gists. In reviewing these representative observations with a spe- 
cific purpose in mind, we shall not ignore variations of the 
particular components of a child's developing ego or the factors 
which function in such a way as to accelerate or retard develop- 
ment. Briefly, it will be seen that both the components of the 
developing ego and the speed of its development will vary in terms 
of the limitations of the physical surroundings: the kind of treat- 
ment (care, resistances, and encouragements) received from adults, 
opportunities for language development, contact with cultural 
products, symbols, norms, associations with age mates, and so on. 
We are interested in the fundamental observations which show 


that a trend in development does occur. And we shall see that, in 
spite of variations, the general trend of ego development revealed 
in these investigations is essentially similar, 


As early as 1787, long before the appearance of experimental 
psychology, Dietrich Tiedemann [46] published his observations 
on his son from birth through the third year. 2 Many of his reports 
are relevant to the problem of ego formation. When the child was 
slightly over a month old, Tiedemann wrote that 

... the boy did not beat or scratch himself with his hands as 
frequently as before; so it seemed that painful, oft repeated experience 
had taught him to draw some distinction between himself and foreign 
bodies. [46, 210] 

One year and four months later: 

His power of judgment was even more clearly evident on January 
11, 1783, when he recognized his own image in the mirror. . . . Chil- 
dren are often held up to the mirror from earliest infancy, and thus 
they learn by repeated experience that the image is their own. [46, 

When the child was 20 months old, we find a picture far different 
from that of the baby beating his own body: 

On the 27th of March he could already pronounce words of two 
syllables, and knew almost all the external parts of his body, which 
he pointed out correctly when their names were mentioned to 
him; . . . [46, 225] 

In the same year, Tiedemann observed: 

The boy did not approve of seeing his sister sitting in his chair of 
wearing his clothes; he called these things his things. [46, 227] 

Here, the italicized pronoun is evidence of the widening ego for 
mation with language development. 

2 The records were translated into French a few years later and into English 
in 1927. 


A new impetus was given to genetic studies with the theory of 
evolution and with modern experimental psychology. Charles 
Darwin [14] published A Biographical Sketch of an Infant in 
1877. His influence is clearly reflected a few years later in the 
work of Preyer, who, as we shall see, actually repeated some of 
Darwin's methods in observing his own child. At the turn of the 
century, genetic studies were made in every country where the 
new evolutionary theories spread. 8 

Early in this period, Preyer observed the growth of his son in 
Germany. He wrote: 

Before the child is in a condition to recognize as belonging to him 
the parts of his body that he can feel and see, he must have had a 
great number of experiences, which are for the most part associated 
with painful feelings. How little is gained for the development of 
the notion of the "I" by means of the first movements of the hands, 
which the infant early carries to the mouth, and which must give him, 
when he sucks them, a different feeling from that given by sucking 
the finger of another person, or other suitable objects, appears from 
the fact that, e.g., my child for months tugged at his fingers as if he 
wanted to pull them off, and struck his own head with his hand by 
way of experiment. At the close of the first year he had a fancy for 
striking hard substances against his teeth, and made a regular play of 
gnashing the teeth. When on the four hundred and ninth day he 
stood up straight in bed, holding on to the railing of it with his hands, 
he bit himself on his bare arm, and that the upper arm, so that he 
immediately cried out with pain. The marks of the incisors were to 
be seen long afterward. The child did not a second time bite himself 
in the arm, but only bit his fingers, and inadvertently his tongue. 
[57, 189] 

Thus, at a time when the attention to what is around is already very 
far developed, one's own person may not be distinguished from the 
environment. . . . Nay, even in the nineteenth month it is not yet 
clear how much belongs to one's own body. The child had lost a 
shoe. I said, "Give the shoe." He stooped, seized it, and gave it to 
me. Then, when I said to the child, as he was standing upright on 
the floor, "Give the foot," ... he grasped at it with both hands, and 
labored hard to get it and hand it to me. [190] 

* For summaries of the work of this period see [42]. 


Another important factor is the perception of a change produced by 
one's own activity in all sorts of familiar objects that can be taken 
hold of in the neighborhood; and the most remarkable day, from a 
psycho-genetic point of view, in any case an extremely significant day 
in the life of the infant, is the one in which he first experiences the 
connection of a movement executed by himself with a sense-impression 
following upon it. [191 j.] 

The child that at first merely played like a cat, being amused with 
color, form, and movement, has become a causative being. Herewith 
the development of the "I" -feeling enters upon a new phase. [57, 193] 

As noted earlier, Preyer was inspired by Darwin's work. He 
included the following comments and quotations from Darwin: 

Darwin recorded of one of his sons, that in the fifth month he 
repeatedly smiled at his father's image and his own in a mirror and 
took them for real objects; but he was surprised that his father's 
voice sounded from behind him (the child). "Like all infants, he 
much enjoyed thus looking at himself, and in less than two months 
perfectly understood that it was an image, for if I made quite silently 
any odd grimace, he would suddenly turn around to look at me. 
. . . The higher apes which I tried with a small looking-glass behaved 
differently. They placed their hands behind the glass, and in doing 
so showed their sense; but, far from taking pleasure in looking at 
themselves, they got angry and would look no more." [57, 796] 

Preyer found that his child also failed to recognize his own 
image at first: 

In the fifty-seventh week, however, I held a small-hand mirror close 
to the face of the child. He looked at his image and then passed his 
hand behind the glass. . . . Then he took the mirror himself and 
looked at it and felt of it on both sides. [57, 198] 

Thus, Preyer's child initially behaved similarly to Darwin's apes, 
only later learning that the image was a reflection of himself. 
Preyer further recognized the emergence of the ego at the human 
level as a result of learning when he wrote: 

More important for the development of the child's ego than are the 
observation of the shadow and of the image in the glass is the learning 
of speech. ... By means of speech the conceptual distinction of the 


"I," the self, the mine, is first made exact; the development, not the 
origin, of the "F-feeling is simply favored. [57, 201 /.] 

A few years after Preyer's work (1895), J. M. Baldwin [2] 
came to similar conclusions concerning ego formation. His obser- 
vations were casual and principally of his own children. Without 
subscribing to certain theoretical extensions of Baldwin's basic 
position (for example, the recapitulation theory), we include some 
of his generalizations which later investigations have substantiated. 4 
Baldwin notes that 

... for a long time the child's sense of self includes too much. . . , 
It includes the infant's mother, and little brother, and nurse, in a literal 
sense; ... To be separated from his mother is to lose a part of him- 
self, as much so as to be separated from a hand or foot. [2, 338 f.] 

However, through the infant's interaction with objects and persons 
in the environment, his "sense of self" becomes more clearly 

The ego and the alter are thus born together. Both are crude and 
unreflective, largely organic, an aggregate of sensations, prime among 
which are efforts, pushes, strains, physical pleasures and pains. . . . 
My sense of myself grows by imitation of you, and my sense of your- 
self grows in terms of my sense of myself. Both ego and alter are thus 
essentially social. [2, 338] 

Baldwin also touched upon the problem of the moral behavior 
of the young child, later systematically developed by Piaget. At 
first, the child's moral behavior is a copy of the adult's, followed 
with some confusion and without understanding, but finally 

It is its aim so may the child say to himself [of this code] ... to 
have me obey it, act like it, think like it, be like it in all respects. 
It is not I, but I am to become it. [2, 345] 

The fact that Baldwin early related the problem of ego forma- 
tion to that of moral development is especially significant as we 
shall see later on. 

4 The theoretical work of Baldwin in 1895 has been elaborated by C. H. Cooley 
[12] and George Mead [44] who were probably also influenced by James. 


Shinn's studies [59] are among the classics in the child psychol- 
ogy of this period. Beginning in 1893, she carefully recorded the 
daily behavior of a child for three years. Her faithful records 
were published in 1899. More interested in empirical discovery 
than in the grand theorizing of her time, such as that of James 
and Baldwin, Shinn did not publish a theoretical formulation of 
her work until eight years later. She conceived of ego develop- 
ment as a constant process proceeding from undiflferentiated 
awareness of bodily movements to increasing differentiation and 
localization of bodily experiences, which emerge as "the large and 
complex consciousness of the somatic self." [vol. 2, 133] Shinn 
cites many examples of experiences which were important for the 
separation of the child's "self" from its external surroundings. 
For example, on the 132d day she wrote: 

She was sitting in a horse collar on the floor, and bent herself over 
the back of it till the back of her head touched the floor. She righted 
herself and tried again, with her head turned sidewise as if to see what 
touched her. In this position, she failed to reach the floor; she ... 
tried again a full dozen times. . . . Finally ... her mother took her 
up. She kept up the same experiment for some days. [59, vol. 1, 143] 

In a similar way, the "double sensations" involved in touching 
parts of her own body lead to delineation of what is "me" and 


The 181st day her hand came into contact with her ear; she became 
at once very serious, and felt it and pulled it hard; losing it, she felt 
around her cheek for it, but when her mother put her hand back, she 
became interested in the cheek and wished to keep on feeling that. 
... To the end of the year, she would . . . feel over her head, neck, 
hair, and ears; the hair she discovered in the eighth month, 222d day, 
while feeling for her ear, and felt it over and pulled it with great 
curiosity. [59, vol. 1, 143] 

The child makes other "experiments," as Shinn calls them, after 
accidental contact with twigs and household objects, [vol. 1, 144] 
Still, a clear notion of "self" develops slowly. 

It is possible that even pain is late in clear reference to the bodily 
self. Mrs. Beatly's boy, at 10 months old, crying over a bump, called 


attention to it by pointing his finger to the wall where he had struck 
his head, not at the injured spot. [vol. 2, 115] 

In using sign language, in the second year, babies always indicate 
the mouth, I think, not the stomach region to express hunger. My 
niece at 18 months seems hardly to understand the word "eat" as 
distinguished from putting into the mouth, and even confused it with 
"kiss." [59, vol. 2, 140] 

However, a particularly severe pain was located and remembered. 

In the middle of the fourteenth month, 408th day, she burned her 
tongue, seizing too hastily upon her potato . . . three days later when 
conditions were repeated, the potato before her again ... I asked, 
"Doesn't Ruth remember where the potato burned her?" and she 
nodded and put her finger to her mouth to indicate the spot. As late 
as the 446th day, hearing someone speak of burns, she put her finger 
to her mouth with a rueful sound. [59, vol. 1, 151] 

We see one of the many ways adult behavior figured in the early 
development of this child's ego when "in the fourteenth week, I 
kissed her hand suddenly and it flew up as if by reflex, while her 
face showed surprise." [vol. 1, 139] 

As Preyer noted, the development of language greatly "favors" 
the process of ego formation. In the following incident reported 
by Shinn, the baby's development of a particular attitude toward 
her own body is indicated. This attitude clearly depends upon the 
segregation of the physical self from the environment. The in- 
fant's use of her own name is particularly interesting in view of 
later work on the use of personal pronouns. 

The first instance I note of her finding kisses annoying is in the 
nineteenth month, when twice she cried, "Way!" (Go away) as I 
was about to kiss her; but during the twenty-second month, she often 
showed annoyance at them, and I have noted sundry protests as, 
"Don't kiss Ruth,-hurts!" [59, vol. 1, 739] 

Moore [45] studied her child at the same time as Shinn with 
the intent of substantiating the psychological theories of Wundt. 
She carefully noted the child's development week by week. For 

Twenty-fourth wee\:Ht did not notice, nor did he appear to see, 
a baby, but he smiled at the woman who held her. [47] 


Fiftieth wee\:TAt stood before a mirror and made grimaces at his 
own reflection. He stopped the performance upon perceiving in the 
mirror that he was observed. [48] 

Fifty-first weefcHe observed another baby with interest. [50] 
Fifty-eighth weekj ... He observed other children closely. [50] 
Seventy-seventh wee\:-- ... he at once recognized his own reflec- 
tion as that of a "baby." [45, 62] 

So this child, by a variety of experience, not all of which are 
recorded or included here, not only learned to identify himself, 
but learned in addition that others in his world, occupying a 
similar status, were somehow like himself. 

Moore also contributed observations which show how the 
development of communicable language aids in the conceptual 
delineations of the ego. 

As early as the eighteenth week, he was able to distinguish between 
mine and yours, and you and /. It was not until the ninety-sixth week 
that he began to use them. In the ninety-seventh week he substituted 
/ for Warren and later learned to speak of himself as he probably 
because he heard himself thus spoken of. [45, 129] 

As we shall see, this general picture has been found later by those 
who have investigated the development of language. 

In England during this same period, James Sully [62] was 
concerned with the development of the "self." His theorizing was 
based on a father's diary written two years before Preyer's, on 
records made by mothers, as well as on autobiographical material. 
His conclusions agree essentially with those of Preyer, Baldwin, 
and Shinn. Sully pointed out that the child functions as an 
organism before he has any psychological experience of "self," a 
fact emphasized much later by Piaget and Susan Isaacs: 

The most distant acquaintance with the first years of human life 
tells us that young children have much in common with the lower 
animals. Their characteristic passions and impulses are centred in self 
and the satisfaction of its wants. [62, 231] 

Resistances from physical objects help the child experience "this 
consciousness of self in its antagonism to a not-self." [235] 


The child's entrance into social life through a growing consciousness 
of the existence of others is marked by much fierce opposition to their 
wishes. [231] 

The acquisition of clearer ideas about self and others has been 
touched on in connexion with the growth of the boy's language. The 
first use of "I" and the contemporaneous first use of "you" (end of 
third month) [of second year of life] seem to point to a new awaken- 
ing of the intelligence to the mystery of self, and of its unique position 
in relation to other things. [444] 

By the end of the fourth month [of the second year] we read that 
"I" was growing less shy, not merely coming on the scene in familiar 
and safe verbal companionship, as in expressions like "I can," but 
boldly pushing its way alone or in new combinations. By the sixth 
month (two and a half) the name Ningi may be said to have dis- 
appeared from his [child's] vocabulary. His rejection of it was for- 
mally announced at the age of two years seven and a half months. 
On being asked at this date whether he was Ningi he answered, 
"No, my name Kiffie [Cliffie]." He then added, "Ningi name of 
another little boy." [62, 445] 

All these observations are important for our theme. We see that 
the child's behavior is first governed by biological needs. By en- 
countering resistances of various sorts, this "consciousness of self, 
in its antagonism to a not-self" begins to form. During this period, 
the "corporeal reference" of self is clearly manifested. [426] But 
with the growth of language, the ego formation becomes at the 
same time more precise and complex, for the conceptualization of 
"self" thus afforded is accompanied by notions (attitudes) of self 
in relation to others, as we saw in Sully's illustrations when Cliffie 
renounced his baby name. 

Still during this elaboration of the ego, confusion as to the 
limitations of "I" does occur, particularly when the child encoun- 
ters new experiences. Sully reports from George Sand's account 
of her childhood an incident that occurred when she was four 
years old: 

It was at Madrid that she first made acquaintance with one of 
Nature's most fascinating mysteries, the echo. 

"I studied this phenomenon with an extreme pleasure. What struck 
me as most strange was to hear my own name repeated by my own 
voice. Then there occurred to me an odd explanation. I thought 


that I 'was double, and that there was round about me another T 
whom I could not sec, but who always saw me, since he always an- 
swered me." 

She spent days in trying to get sight of her double. Her mother 
. . . told her it was echo, "the voice in the air!" [62, 496] 

The observations relevant to the development of the ego were 
sufficiently well-known and in agreement to be summarized in 
1909 by Tracy and Stimpfl [63] in their text. In a section entitled 
"The Idea of Self," the authors speak of 

The phenomena which accompany and indicate the gradual emer- 
gence into clear consciousness, of what Taine calls the "unextended 
centre," the "mathematical point," by relation to which all the "other" 
is defined and which each of us calls "I," or "me." [63, 70] 

As we have pointed out in chapter 5, ego components do indeed 
function as reference points or anchorages in terms of which the 
individual relates himself to his immediate environment and to the 
social milieu. 

It should be mentioned in passing that some sociologists of the 
early 1900's were also concerned with ego genesis. In 1908, Cooley 
[13] studied the use of "self words" by a child to see "how far 
and in what sense the self-idea is a social conception." [339] He 
found the use of personal pronouns, as of all communicable lan- 
guage, inextricably bound with social interaction. He concluded: 

"7" is a differentiation in a vague body of personal ideas 1 which is 
either self-consciousness or social consciousness, as you please to loof( 
at it. [13, 342 f italics ours] 

William Stern [60] referred to the process of ego formation 
when he wrote: 

At first, however, there is no ego-consciousness, no objective con- 
sciousness, but only the very first germs, entirely undifferentiated of 
both. [60, 76] 

These "very first germs" Stern calls "sense emotional states." [75] 
It is not our purpose here to speculate upon the "consciousness" of 
an infant. However, it is significant that Stern too concluded 
from his own study and those of early investigators (for example, 
Preyer and Shinn) that differentiation between the ego and the 


outside world ("objective consciousness") occurs in the course of 
development and is not present at birth. Stern also wrote that the 

. . . life-circle, of which his ego is the very centre, extends at first 
only by slow degrees; at first he has to get a sure and firm footing 
before he is capable of entering into living relations with his environ- 
ment and the strange aims it presents to him. Hence the desires and 
impulses that first develop are above all of an egoistic nature. [60, 

Stern's material concerning play and fantasy in early childhood 
is also revealing: 

When we see the child's absolute absorption as he listens to a fairy- 
tale and tells an imaginary tale of his own, how earnestly he carries on 
his games, and his despair at any interruption, then we recognize that 
the illusion of reality is here complete indeed, or very nearly so. ... 
And yet the child begins fairly early to feel dimly that other stern 
idea of reality possessed by us adults. He notices that many of his 
conscious experiences cannot be ended or changed in accordance with 
his fancy, but that they force themselves upon him and make their 
consequences felt; in short, he begins to realize his dependence on 
things outside himself and to endeavour to adapt himself to them. 
[60, 283 f. f italics ours] 

The classic work of Piaget and his collaborators gives invaluable 
information on the development of the ego. In fact, Piaget 
[52-56] systematically links the major psychological functions 
of infant mentality with the initial lack of and the progressive 
development of the ego. On the basis of actual material collected 
over a period of years, Piaget concludes that "the younger the 
child, the less sense he has of his own ego." [55, 86] In early in- 
fancy, "the child does not distinguish between external and inter- 
nal, subjective and objective." [86] * 

The infant psychologically first floats "about in an undiflferen- 
tiated absolute." [54, 128] In this undiflferentiated absolute there 
are no psychological boundaries between one's own body and other 
objects, between reality and phantasy. Thus a distinct ego experi- 

5 See also [53, 197} and [54, 130]. 


cnce is the "result of a gradual and progressive dissociation, and 
not a primitive intuition." [128] The dominant principle regulat- 
ing the orientation of this initial "undifferentiated absolute" is the 
satisfaction of the momentary needs or wishes as they arise. Be- 
cause child mentality and behavior are governed by the "pleasure 
principle," to use the term Piaget borrowed from psychoanalysis, 
the child reacts differently to the same objects when his needs or 
wishes change. The infant may react positively toward a person 
or object at one instant, negatively a little later. He has as yet 
established no consistent role and status relationships with other 
individuals because consistent ego links are lacking. From the 
point of view of adult logic, such behavior is characterized by 
contradictions. However, this so-called inconsistency is consistent 
in that it follows (or is regulated by) the variations in needs or 
wishes as they momentarily arise. This is the stage of pure autism, 
and autism "knows of no adaptation to reality, because pleasure is 
its only spring of action." [53, 244] As we shall see later, this 
undifferentiated state is important in understanding the systematic 
extensions of Piaget's theory to ethical and social fields. 

Because of the resistances met in the external world, the child 
adapts to reality. But in order to adapt, he must begin to make 
distinctions between what is himself and what is not. In this 
process, logical consistency dawns and gradually develops through 
the stages of "egocentrism" and logical thinking. In this "ego- 
centric" period, the child talks and acts as if he were the center of 
reference of the whole world. There is not much logical consist- 
ency, for this can be achieved only when some well-established 
premise is followed step by step. In the process of ego develop- 
ment, differentiation takes place. Realization of the reciprocal 
relations between oneself and other people evolves as one learns 
that there are other points of view besides one's own absolutism. 
In order to grasp this, the child must be able to separate himself 
from the external world. 

Although the age locations of these stages, the situations in 
which the highest and lowest coefficients of "egocentrism" may be 
obtained, the factors influencing the duration or overlapping of 
"egocentric" and "logical" stages are important problems for child 
and developmental psychology, they are not our present concern. 


As we shall see, social, material (economic), and physical condi- 
tions in different social systems and classes in which the child 
grows may accelerate or retard the appearance of various stages. 
Even the particular peculiarities, economic and personal, of a spe- 
cific family might produce differential timing. The value of 
Piaget's work for us lies chiefly in the demonstration of the general 
trend of a child's developing mentality, starting from an undiffer- 
entiated absolute dominated by autism, governed chiefly by the 
satisfaction of momentary needs or wishes, through the gradual 
adaptation to reality as the child meets external resistances. Dur- 
ing this process the ego develops. 

In the impressive work of Henri Wallon, Les Origines du carae- 
tire chez I* enfant [64], which consists chiefly of lectures delivered 
at the Sorbonne from 1929 to 1931, we find descriptions of the 
affective reactions of the newborn child as well as a detailed ac- 
count of the progressive development of the experience and differ- 
entiation of one's own body [155-210] and a consciousness of the 
ego. [210-265] This latter section of Wallon's work is particularly 
important for our present problem. For he brings together here 
the diverse factors in genetic development which contribute to the 
formation of the ego. Starting with the conception that the ego 
is not innately given as a unitary experience at birth, he shows step 
by step how the experience of the self is achieved as something 
distinct from the surrounding objects and persons as the child 
encounters them in the course of his development. This distinc- 
tion is achieved only after a progressive and laborious process of 
assimilation and identification. 6 

Moral character appears only as a consequence of the child's 
differentiation of himself from other individuals and his aware- 

6 "La conscience de soi n'est pas essentielle et primitive, comme le postulent 
ceux qui en font I'instrument de la psychologic. Elle est un produit deja tres 
differencie de Pactivite psychique. C'est seulement a partir de trois ans que Penfant 
commence a se conduire et a se connaitre en sujet distinct d'autrui. Et pour qu'il 
arrive a s'analyser, a chercher les formules a Paide desquelles il tentera d'exprimer 
son individualite subjective, il lui faut subir une evolution qui le mene jusqu'a 
Fadolescence ou a Page adulte et dont les degres et les formes varient conside- 
rablement d'une personne a Pautre." [209] "Petit a petit cependant, par un long 
travail d'identification et d'assimilation, il apprend simultanement a dechiffrer, 
dans ses impressions, le monde qui s'oppose a lui et a s'attribuer comme sien ce 
qui va le rendre capable d'opposer a autrui les exigences de sa personne.*' [210] 


ness of the reciprocal relationship he has with others. [205, 221 ff.] 
Wallon notes clearly that the notions and values attached to the 
developing ego and personality will vary according to the particu- 
lar material and social circumstances that surround the particular 
child in question. 7 

Susan Isaacs [31, 32], with her psychoanalytic approach, places 
less emphasis on the social factors in development and criticizes 
Piaget's systematic presentation on several counts. Without enter- 
ing into controversies, we see that Isaacs' results nevertheless sub- 
stantiate the general conclusions reached by other investigators 
reviewed, including Piaget. Her work again shows that the ego 
is not a primitive perception but appears in the course of contacts 
with the external world. She remarks that 

The first value which the physical world has for the child is as a 
canvas upon which to project his personal wishes and anxieties, and 
his first form of interest in it is one of dramatic representation. [31, 

To him, his wishes, desires or urges, call them what we will, together 
with their outcome in emotions, are the one reality. [32, 286] 

There is as yet no differentiated ego. Isaacs gives a vivid picture 
of early child mentality in which the ego is not yet formed: 

In the same way, things "inside" himself literally mean to the child 
ir\^ide Ms body. And when the child takes the parents as a controlling 
agent, it seems to him that they are thereafter inside his actual body. 
They become identified with internal body processes such as intes- 
tinal movements, stomach pains, breathing, arid so on; and even with 
actual body substances, for example, faeces and urine. [32, 295] 

With frustrations of the child's instincts (resistances from his en- 
vironment, including that of parents and other persons) starts the 
"appreciation of the external world." [288] 

7 "En particulier, dans la periode qui suit, clle va s'intcgrer plus ou moms 
e'troitement a la notion qui developpera chez Penfant la conscience de sa per- 
sonnalite morale vis-a-vis d'autrui. Elle ne peut manquer aussi d'etre plus ou 
moins a Pimage des representations suivant lesquelles il apprend dc Padulte a 
clefinir scs rapports avcc le milieu physique ct social. Et clle se trouve ainsi 
modelee par les conditions dc vie ct dc pcnsec ou le placent les techniques dc 
rcxistence, les formes du language, les usages, croyances, connaissances, etc., 
propre a son epoque. Ces variations ne semblent pas avoir d'autre limite quc la 
diversite possible des civilisations." [205 f.] 


Lewin [39, 40] portrays the developing ego in line with the 
Gestalt understanding of the problem. 8 The ego is referred to as 
a "system or complex of systems, a functional part region within 
(the) psychological totality." [40, 56] The development of the 
ego is traced from the "undifferentiated absolute." When the 
child meets the resistances of inanimate objects, and the opposi- 
tions offered by other people, such as parents or nurses, he has to 
distinguish between himself and external things. [175] 

Analogous to this relatively slight delimitation among the various 
inner psychological systems, the functional firmness of the boundary 
between his own person and the psychological environment is also 
in general less with the child than with the adult. This is expressed, 
for example, by the fact, that "I" or self is only gradually formed, 
perhaps in the second or third year. [39, 121] 

And the slighter "firmness of the boundary" between self and en- 
vironment has a direct bearing upon the slighter separation of real 
from unreal strata. 

As we have seen and shall consider in more detail later, segrega- 
tion of the ego from the persons and objects in the child's environ- 
ment, language development, and the formation of attitudes to- 
wards himself and others are necessary for the child's grasp of 
reciprocal relationships. As Charlotte Biihler [7, 8] wrote: 

The child is a part of his mother before he becomes an individual 
for himself and is part of a definite group for a long time before he 
can enter and join any group actively. [7, 380] 

Although some of Buhler's observations would seem to throw light 
on the problem of ego formation, she refers to it only in passing: 

Unfortunately, we know as yet very little about the entire genesis 
of the sense of ego in the child. [8, 74] 

Horowitz' study [27] on "localization" of the ego is very much 
to the point in our review of investigations indicating that the ego 
is a genetic formation. The problem in this study was to find at 

8 Sec Kohler's Gestalt Psychology [38] and Koffka's Principles of Gestalt Psy- 
chology [37]. 


what point in the body each individual subject located the "self." 
Horowitz varied the procedure to suit the ages of the subjects, 
small children and college students. The results show that differ- 
ent subjects located themselves in different parts of the body, for 
example, head, face, brain, heart, genitals, chest. Horowitz con- 
cluded from the results that 

The localization of the self as is reported in the literature quoted, 
in the responses on our questionnaire, in informal discussion, in the 
investigation of children, is not the basic phenomenon one might hope 
for to ease an analysis of the structure of the self and personality. 
The more or less stable and constant association of the self-concept 
with the particular body regions, functions, or external objects or 
conditions serves chiefly as a reference point for the individual as a 
whole in the situation. [27, 386] 

No adequate survey of representative observations relevant to 
the problem of ego formation could be written without use of the 
vast data accumulated over many years by Gesell and his asso- 
ciates. [19-22] In their 1943 publication, Gesell and Ilg sum- 
marize these observations as "behavior norms." However, as early 
as 1934, Gesell and Thompson included observations of ego forma- 
tion. For example, the babies' behavior before a mirror was noted: 

At 40 weeks ... the responses tend to be somewhat delayed and 
even restrained and sober. [21, 242] 

At 56 weeks, on the contrary, social, outgoing response to the image 
is characteristically prompt and prominent. The infant seems to be 
completely deceived and he acts as though he were in full social 
commerce with another child. [241] 

It is doubtful whether the infant identifies himself in any way with 
the image. Even at the age of 5 years a pair of twin girls made 
misinterpretations of their mirror images. Each considered the image 
not a self-image, but called it by the name of the cotwin. [21, 241] 

In the latter example, the peculiar situation of having a live "self- 
image" caused confusion in one aspect of delineating the ego from 
what was outside the ego. In 1938, "mirror behavior" was included 
among other "behavior norms." 

In 1940, the description of the first five years of life is rich with 
observations such as these: 


The 1-year-old infant is not very articulate. . . . Much of his emo- 
tional expression is highly egocentric. He makes very meager dis- 
tinction between himself and others. His vocalizations are only 
beginning to have a social reference. [19, 31 /.] 

[At eighteen months:] His social insights are not much more bril- 
liant than his perception of eliminative functions. He is self -en grossed 
(not selfish) because he does not perceive other persons as individuals 
life himself. \33, italics ours] 

[At two years of age:] Pronouns, mine, me, you, and / are coming 
into use approximately in the order just given. While his sense of 
self is not as totalitarian as it was at eighteen months, it is by no means 
sufficiently defined for conceptual verbalization. He is much more 
prone to call himself by his given name: "Peter slide down," instead 
of "I slide down." [37] 

You can bargain with Three. He knows with a clarity that was 
quite wanting at Two that he is a person and that you are a person, 
and he negotiates reciprocal trade agreements. [44] 

He must have a sense of self and of status because he somewhat 
disdains such a simple, babyish commission as, "Show me, where is 
your nose!" [44] 

[The four-year-old] is even beginning to sense himself as one among 
many. He is less circumscribed than Three. He has a definite 
consciousness of kind, of his own kind. Once during a psychological 
examination he asked, "Do you spank children who don't finish?" 
A revealing question, which discloses that the 4-year-old realizes his 
equivalence with other children who come to the Clinic under similar 
circumstances. [19, 48] 

These generalizations based on observations conducted under 
conditions similar to strict laboratory controls elaborate the general 
picture given by earlier investigators. With the realization that 
particular behavior at particular times is affected in a major way 
by the circumstances of development and learning, both large and 
small, we can review the summary of Gesell and Ilg [20] on ego 
development "in the culture of today." 

The newborn infant has no "clear sense of self-identity." 

But as he grows up he must disengage himself from this univer- 
sality, and become a well-defined individual. By the time he is five 
or six years old he must see himself for what he is. [20, 334] 


As he grows, he must separate himself from his environment by 
"experience which sometimes is bitter." Step by step, he under- 

... a progressive differentiation which disengages him more fully 
from the culture in which he is so deeply involved. Paradoxically this 
very disengagement also identifies him more fully with his culture; 
he transforms from a mere ward to a working member. [ 334 /.] 

At 4 weekjs of age, the baby's face is generally impassive. By 
8 wee\s it breaks into a spontaneous social smile at the sight of 
another person's face . . . this double reference is at the basis of the 
child's socialization and personalization. At 16 weefy the social smile 
is spontaneous or self-induced. ... By 25 wee\s he already reacts 
differently to a stranger's face. [335] 

By 40 wee\s or a year he has made significant advances in self- 
discovery. Whether sitting up or lying down, his arms and hands 
now have more freedom of movement, and he uses them to explore 
his own physical self. At 16 weeks they were at his mouth; at 20 
weeks they engaged above his chest. Following the head to foot trend 
which is characteristic of development, the hands at 40 weeks (and 
later) come down to the thighs. Just as he used to indulge in mutual 
fingering, he now makes contact with his genitals when not clothed. 

In the period from 1 to 2 years there is an increasing amount of 
social reference. Although the infant-child is capable of long stretches 
of self-absorbed activity, he is also given to numerous social advances. 
... He extends a toy to a person; he holds out his arm for the sleeve; 
he says "ta-ta"; he hands the empty cereal dish to his mother; . . . 
By all these tokens and devices, he builds up a vast body of specific 
perceptual experience which ultimately enables him to draw the 
momentous conclusion that there are other persons in the world more 
or less like himself. [336] 

Two years is a transitional period when the child both clings to 
moorings and cuts from them. Johnny is his name, and in his in- 
articulate psychology, the spoken word Johnny which he hears is 
nothing more or less than he himself! His name is Johnny as a 
person. He will soon use the pronouns you, me, and /, a further 
indication of a fundamental change in the psychology of his self. 
[337, italics ours] 

"Even by the age of 3 years, the child has attained a well-balanced 
sense of self. ... He knows his own sex with assurance. His inter- 


est in human anatomy remains strong; he talks freely and naturally 
about differences which he has observed. [20, 338 /.] 

At four years, Gesell notes: "On occasion, with bravado, he 
would like to be a man of the world; but he really is still closely 
bound to his mother. He cites her as authority in cases of dispute. 
MY mommie s^ys so!" [339] Here, and in the following quota- 
tion from Gesell, we see how the child reifies the dictums of 

Between 5 and 6 years the child ... has lost some of the sopho- 
moric traits of 4 year oldness, and has more sense o status and pro- 
priety. He has a better appreciation of the folkways of culture. He 
shows the conservatism of youth in deferring to them, and citing them 
to his parents for their consideration. He does not want to be 
different from humanity. [20, 340] 

Another observation, valuable for our discussion, is, that at about 
72 months the child begins "setting up standards for himself," 
forming value judgments about his own behavior. 

We have not tried in this review to discover all the details of the 
progressive development of the ego. The variety of experiences, 
objects, and persons important for different children in different 
situations is impressive. From the observations of both early and 
more recent investigators, it has become evident, however, that the 
ego is not given at birth but is a genetic formation. The infant at 
first makes no differentiation between his body and its surround- 
ings. When resistances (especially unpleasant ones) are met from 
the surroundings (objects and persons), the gradual process of 
segregating "self" from "not self" is furthered. As the child ma- 
tures and as communicable language is learned, the ego becomes 
more precisely defined and is extended by the child with his own 
conceptions (attitudes) about the body and other objects, persons, 
and situations. This general trend has been repeatedly observed 
even though the process of ego formation does show variable 
aspects when different children are viewed under different condi- 
tions. As we noted previously, these facts and their important 
implications for the socialization of the child have not been system- 
atically brought out in general books on child psychology. How- 
ever, the facts have contributed to the formulations of some 


developmental psychologists and are almost taken for granted. 
For example, in her recent book (1945), Goodenough notes that 
goals and values can be established and plans for the future can be 
made only after a certain development of the ego. [24] 

Nothing is more important for the child's future than the level and 
type of the goals he sets for himself. And because these goals are not 
clearly realized until after the crystallizing effect of verbal formulation 
has taken place and the distinction between the self and the not-self 
has become sufficiently advanced to give form and pattern to the 
child's social attitudes, the period of middle childhood takes on special 
importance, for it is then that the child for the first time faces his 
future. [24, 423, italics ours] 

Such considerations should be paramount in dealing with the 
problems of attitude formation in general and ego differentiation 
in particular. 

Language development and ego formation. Several investiga- 
tors (for example, Preyer, Moore, Cooley and Gesell) have stressed 
the fact that ego formation is accelerated and expanded as the 
child acquires a more effective use of language. Since language 
development looms so important in the genetic formation of the 
ego, at least a few paragraphs emphasizing its role are necessary. 

A number of investigations of language development have 
accumulated in recent years. We can refer here to only a few of 
them to show what valuable information they furnish concerning 
the conceptualization of the self. Since, as we shall see later, the 
results of most child study are, to a greater or lesser degree, de- 
pendent upon the particular situations under which observation is 
made, it is not our problem here to consider the exact percentages 
of any language behavior in question found at different age levels 
and under different conditions. The relevance of all these results 
to the present discussion is the consistent trend reported. 

McCarthy [43] observed children when they were in familiar 
situations. Her analysis revealed that pronouns "represent about 
10 per cent of the total number of words used by the eighteen- 
month-old children, and they increase to approximately 20 per cent 
of the words used by the fifty-four-month-old children." [725] 
Pronouns, of course, serve as conceptualizations of the self and 


others. Fisher's observations [17] of children from 18 to 60 months 
of age in nursery school situations also show a progressive increase 
in the use of pronouns in relation to one's self and others with age. 
She found "a significant positive relationship between use of we, 
our, and us and chronological age." [74] No child used these 
pronouns before the first half of the third year. In Fisher's words, 
this increase with age suggests "a gradually increasing awareness 
of membership in a larger group." [56] 

The almost traditional interest of some sociologists in the process 
of ego formation is shown again by Bain's observations on his 
child. [1] Noting that his study agreed with those of Preyer, 
Shinn, and Cooley, he wrote "that infants learn the names of 
others before they learn their own." The following excerpts from 
his records give some idea of the development of the conceptual 
"I" in Bain's child. Referring to herself first as "baby," then as 
"See" (Sheila), the child used "I" only after some confusion. 

and Days 

14-8. S distinguishes "daddy's ear" from "your car." 

16-0. When told to say "Sheila Bain" she says "Baby!" 

16-12. S says "baby" when told to say her own name and also whenever 

she sees another baby, doll, child, or picture of any of them. 

17-18. Posscssives arc quite well established: "See's Dadda, See's Mama" 

20-17. Used "my" for "I" -"My see you." 

26-18. Tonight S said "I want to! I want to!" R [her mother] said, 
"Who is I?" S said "I is me!" [1] 

Thus we find, four decades later, substantiation of Mdore's obser- 
vation that the child refers to himself with his own name before 
he uses "I" or "me," a fact by now familiar to all students of child 
psychology. When the "I" emerges clearly, a step forward is taken 
in the complex process of forming attitudes toward the self and 

Using the careful techniques of modern child study, Good- 
enough [23] observed children in two situations, one free play and 
one alone with the experimenter, and recorded their use of pro- 
nouns. She also found gradual increases in the use of pronouns 
with age. However, Goodenough further observed that 


Pronouns of the first person singular occur with far greater fre- 
quency during free play with other children than in the controlled 
situation where the child presumably feels less need to assert himself. 
The same trend is shown in the use of the possessives, my and mine. 
[23, 337] 

Here we see the striking influence of factors coming from specific 
situations upon behavior regulated by the ego. Although we shall 
consider this topic in greater detail later in this chapter, it should 
be noted here that the results of functional analyses of behavior 
such as those suggested by Piaget (for example, coefficients of 
"egocentric" behavior) will surely vary, within limits, according 
to the situation in which the child is behaving. 


In this section, we shall call attention to some representative 
studies which deal specifically with the effects of age-mate groups. 
This subject has been badly neglected by some sociologists who 
maintain that all ego-values are handed down only by the well- 
established order of the adult generation at any given period. 
Without attempting to give a comprehensive summary of work in 
this field, we cite these studies to illustrate the influence of age- 
mate contacts on the process of ego formation. In some of the 
studies on the early collective behavior and play group activities 
of children, there are indications that the situation often can and 
does determine such interpersonal characteristics as aggressive or 
co-operative behavior, referred to by some psychologists as "per- 
sonality traits." In the studies of Lois Murphy [47] and Jersild 
[34], to be summarized, we find, for example, evidence that these 
"personality traits" are neither absolute and unchanging properties 
of the individual, nor fixed characteristics formed in early infancy. 
Any theory of personality will gain much breadth, in our opinion, 
if the situational determinations and fluctuations, within certain 
limits, of course, are given the consideration they deserve. Con- 
temporary child psychologists have stressed the importance of 
situational factors. Thus Stoddard and Wellman [61], summariz- 
ing certain considerations involved in observing the social behavior 
of children, comment that one is forced "to accept the conclusion 


that the amount of behavior exhibited may be so contingent upon 
particularized conditions that consistency from day to day or from 
week to week is unusual." [257] Of course, some situations, such 
as games continuing from day to day, perhaps for weeks, or rela- 
tive roles taken by adolescent boys or girls in clique situations, may 
leave their imprint on the individual members to a greater or 
lesser degree. 

We shall also refer here briefly to the effect of values or norms 
of the established social order usually handed down in the form of 
short-cut dictums. Investigators like Wallon, Salusky, and Davis 
have called attention with accumulating evidence to the effect of 
material and technological surroundings on the developing iden- 
tity of the individual. The general technological level of the 
milieu, the amount and kind of toys and games, the size of living 
space, the kind and amount of nourishment, the kinds of material 
opportunities, and the like, as well as particular values or norms 
are all important parts of the child's outside world. In the next 
three chapters we shall consider further the effect of such factors 
in determining or influencing group identifications and loyalties. 

Some effects of age-mate groups. Especially since the classical 
work of Piaget on children's play, many studies have been con- 
cerned with the implications of the child's participation in collec- 
tive activities. These activities, of course, require the observance 
of certain rules and the conformity to specific roles relative to 
other individuals. From these studies we see that there is a pro- 
gressive development in the social participation of the child with 
other children. This progressive development is observed in the 
child's increased capacity to take part in play and to join as a 
member of an age-mate group. The development is also revealed 
by the increasing duration of collective activity, the increasing size 
of the group (that is, the number of participants), and the increas- 
ing complexity of the rules to be observed in particular group 
situations. All of these reciprocal relationships imply that the 
growing child has to learn that he has definite relationships to 
other children and persons. 

It is only after a child learns his own position relative to other 
individuals around him that he can successfully participate in 
group activities. And only after such a realization can the child 


carry on the more or less consistent behavior demanded by lasting 
social relationships which involve definite status, values, loyalties, 
responsibilities. Important implications for ego development can 
be derived from investigations of age-mate groups. With the in- 
creased interest in the development of the social behavior of chil- 
dren, significant formulations concerned with the implications of 
studies of group participation are beginning to appear in general 
textbooks on child psychology. 

For example, Goodenough [24], in her Developmental Psy- 
chology (1945), traces the social development of the child from the 
rather solitary play activities of early childhood to the stage when 
he is absorbed in group games with age mates with whom he 
identifies himself: 

The four-year-old still says, "I want someone to play with me" 
But a year or so later comes the dawn of a new social concept. Now 
we more often hear, "I want to go and play with the other children!' 
The child no longer sees himself purely as an individual but is 
beginning to identify himself with the group. [24, 394 /., italics in last 
sentence ours] 

Again, Hurlock [30], in Child Development (1942), gives a 
similar picture: 

After the child has entered school and has come in contact with 
other children, he loses interest in playing around the house, alone, 
or with one or two companions. He likewise now considers it a bore 
and not a treat to accompany his parents on picnics, parties, or family 
gatherings. At the same time, interest in individual games gives way 
to group games, and play without companions loses its charm. The 
child has entered the "gang age," an age when social consciousness 
develops very rapidly. 

The child's gang is a result of a spontaneous effort on the part of 
the child to create a society adequate to meet his needs. . . . Through 
gang influences, the child receives important training in social be- 
havior that could not be obtained with comparable success under 
conditions imposed by adult society. There is an awakening of social 
consciousness at this time which is fundamental to all social behavior. 

Without taking sides as to whether or not there is a "gang age," 
a brief investigation of the formation of age-mate groups and the 


frequently reported absorption of children in such groups may 
lead us to a better understanding of the function of values merely 
imposed from above and those generated in situations of active 
participation. During the years 1926 and 1927, Parten [49-51] 
conducted extensive studies on the development of social behavior 
in children from two to five years of age in free play situations. 
Classifying children's play behavior into the categories "unoccu- 
pied behavior," "onlooker behavior," "solitary play," "parallel 
play," "associative group play," and "cooperative group play," she 
found that only 25 per cent of the behavior fell into unsocial 
categories (the first three) ; all the other observations were of social 
behavior (the last three types). Even more important for our 
present consideration is the close relationship between the type of 
play activity and age of the children. She found that 

All the correlations between age and the unsocial play types are 
high and negative, and all those between age and socially organized 
play are high and positive. . . . Only the youngest children, those 
from two to three years, were found unoccupied during the sixty 
observations. Solitary play was most common at two and one-half 
years but there is a decided decline in the importance of solitary play 
at three and again at four years. Onlookers were most prevalent 
among the two-and-one-half to three-year-olds. . . . The oldest chil- 
dren do not engage in onlooking behavior frequently. If an activity 
interests them they want to participate in it. They know all the 
techniques of securing entrance into a group, so do not remain ob- 
servers for any noticeable length of time. Parallel play groups were 
observed most often among the two-year-olds, and least often among 
the children from three to four. As children became older, they 
invariably conversed with one another about their activities, and be- 
came interested in their associates. Associative group play increased 
in popularity as the children became older, and was most frequent 
in the oldest group. There is a marked increase in organized sup- 
plementary play beginning with the third year. This sudden interest 
in cooperative^play is perhaps accounted for by the popularity of the 
activity of "play house" among the three-year-olds. Since the young 
children lac\ the power of expressing themselves with language, they 
have difficulty in playing in cooperative groups. [49, 265 /., italics 


Because co-operative group play is found so predominantly 
among older children, and because its appearance is so closely 
associated with the development of leaders, it is important that 
we examine Parten's description of these groups more closely. 
Such groups are organized for the purpose of making something, 
dramatizing situations, playing formal games, and so on. 

There is a marked sense of belonging or of not belonging to the 
group. The control of the group situation is in the hands of one or 
two of the members who direct the activity of the others. [49, 251, 
italics ours] 

Different roles are taken by the various group members, and the 
activity is organized "so that the efforts of one child are supple- 
mented by those of another." [257] Before a child can participate 
in such a group, a certain degree of ego development must take 
place so that the child can see himself in some definite relationship 
to the other children as required by the group situation. Parten 
[50] found that, although in the older age groups some children 
had a more or less lasting leadership role even with "gang" or- 
ganization, most of the children engaged in both directing and 
following activity. Leadership, then, was seen to be a function of 
the group and its activities as well as a junction of the individual 
child. She also found that as the year in nursery school went on, 
more leadership behavior occurred. During the last two thirds of 
the year, individual differences in leadership became more out- 

Apparently the middle period was one in which the children found 
their places, and cumulative experience in these positions enabled each 
child to hold his place as a leader or follower thereafter with a mini- 
mum of effort and resistance from others. [50, 440, italics ours] 

Consistent with the foregoing results was the finding that the 
size of the groups in which children participated tended to increase 
with age. Older children had learned definite ways of gaining 
entrance to a group, with remarks such as "Can*! play too?" or 
"Shall I be the little brother?", while the group members also 
sometimes invited a child to join them. [51, 137] 

'As notions of the child's self in relation to other children develop 
progressively with age, a corresponding change is seen in his 


manipulation of and interest in toys and other play material. The 
favorite activities and toys of older children tended to be ones 
involving the interaction of several children. Also, "y oun g er and 
older children differ in the manner in which they play with toys 
and hence in the social values the toy has for them." [147] For 
example, a young child's play in the sandpile seldom involved 
social intercourse, however, whereas the older children more often 
played in the sand together constructing houses, roads, and such. 

Bridges' investigations [6] also show the necessity of ego de- 
velopment for the understanding of the reciprocal relationships 
required for participation in age-mate groups. She concluded 
that qualitative differences between the social development of 
young and older preschool children were best explained in terms 
of their consideration of themselves in relation to the other chil- 

Two-year-olds usually play or work by themselves with little refer- 
ence to others except to claim their toys or otherwise interfere with 
them. [82] 

Older children engage more often in group play than younger ones 
and seldom play alone. . . . They usually wait their turn for little 
treats and duties in contrast to the two-year-olds who always want to 
be first. ... In short, between the ages of two and five years children 
in nursery school progress from being socially indifferent infants, 
through the stages of self-assertiveness and interference with the liber- 
ties of others, to a stage in which they show consideration, sympathy 
and kindness for others. [6, 85] 

In Lois Murphy's observations of child behavior, we have one 
more index of the development of the experiences of one's self in 
relation to others. From the developmental point of view, Murphy 
summarizes her findings as follows: 

Statistical analysis clothes in more definite terms the impression we 
recorded earlier, that among children from two to four years of age 
in a nursery-school situation, sympathetic behavior increases with 
chronological age, with mental age, and with intelligence measured 
in terms of LQ. Bridges' descriptions of the behavior of children in 
a Toronto nursery school anticipated this, and there are no data from 
any other investigation which could lead us to question this conclu- 
sion. [47, 171] 


It should be noted that correlations of sympathetic behavior with 
mental age were substantially lower than those with chronological 
age. As Murphy observes, the investigations of Bridges, Parten, 
and Beaver clearly indicated that 

The beginning of social response in groups like these frequently 
takes the form of merely watching, then later of playing alongside 
another child. Neither of these stages involves overt give and take; 
this begins sometimes with physical contact and sometimes with verbal 
contact, depending on the resources of the child. [47, 51] 

In other words, in the early entrance into situations with other 
children, reciprocal relationships are infrequently observed. In 
terms of sympathetic behavior, the focal point of Murphy's inves- 
tigation, she finds that the 

. . . sequence of responses, appearing from one age to another, seems 
to be: (1) staring (paying attention to the distress of another child); 
(2) asking about, commenting on, and so forth (except in the case 
of markedly nonverbal children); (3) active responses of comfort, 
help, defense, and the like. [47, 152] 

Clearly, the child recognizes another child to be a person like 
himself before the latter type of response occurs. 

In this connection, Murphy points out that a very young child 
will respond emotionally to attacks on his mother or other persons 
who are close to him, but that at this early stage such behavior is 
not chiefly due to identification with that other person but to "lack 
of discrimination between self and others, or between self and the 
rest of the world." [296] This is confirmation 40 years later of 
Baldwin's observation that the small child's ego "includes too 

After differentiation "between self and others'* is clear, sympa- 
thetic behavior occurs "in varying degree in response to different 
individuals and is affected by variations in threshold due to differ- 
ences in identifications with different individuals," [303] For 

In Group P we have commented upon episodes of response within 
a small gang, of which Louis was the leader and Stephen, the young- 
est, was the most gang-conscious member. Stephen's concern for 


Louis and Henry was dependable, although he seldom shared concern 
for any other child. George was usually more sympathetic with his 
twin brother than with anyone at issue with the brother. [47, 314] 

Further indication that sympathetic responses occur in terms of 
the child's relation to other children in the group is found, for 
example, in Murphy's comment that 

Friends, younger children, favorites of the group, are most likely to 
receive a relatively large number of sympathetic responses. [47, 159, 
italics ours] 

Sympathetic behavior was also seen to be dependent upon the 
relative stability and the character of reciprocal relationships 
within the group. 

One of the most interesting illustrations of the possibility of a quick 
shift of attitude and expression in reaction to a shift in ego-status, 
appeared in a sad drama of hurt egos, where Janet's usual consistent 
friendliness and sympathy turned to aggressive retaliation, after she 
felt she had been intentionally injured by Heidi, one of her closest 
friends. [47, 180, italics ours] 

In the subsequent protocol, it is clear that restoration of the usual 
group activity was achieved not merely by the two children in- 
volved, but through the intervention and comfort of other group 
members. This is just one example in which "sympathetic re- 
sponses, which ordinarily appear in certain situations, are inhib- 
ited when the ego of the potentially responsive child is threat- 
ened." [181] The investigation also indicated that a child might 
not react positively to a situation quite amusing to others when he 
(or his things) were highly involved in the "joke." [87] 

We would not be doing justice to Murphy's results if we over- 
looked her emphasis on the influence of material and social fac- 
tors from the grown-up world on the development and frequency 
of sympathetic and co-operative behavior. For example, conflict 
was found to be greater if less play space and fewer toys were 
available; somewhat more sympathetic responses were found for 
children of lower socioeconomic status; and adult values and 
norms were seen as potent influences on the children's social be- 


Murphy's report of the influence on behavior of relationships 
within a group leads to a further inquiry into the relationships of 
children to their age mates. Generally speaking, investigations of 
factors related to friendship or companionship among young chil- 
dren have been relatively unprofitable, since they have usually 
attempted only to correlate characteristics, abilities, and similar 
traits of young friends and have overlooked group factors. Little 
relationship between the intelligence, physical development, and 
similar traits of childhood friends has been found. However, 
Furfey's study [18] indicates that proximity, that is, being in the 
same neighborhood or the same classroom, is an important factor 
in the friendship of young children. Similarly, Hagman [26] 
found that preschool children who associated outside of as well 
as in school tended to be close companions. As a criterion of 
friendship among preschool children, Challman [9] used the num- 
ber of times a child was in a group containing another given child. 
With this criterion, higher relationships than usual were found 
between the chronological ages and ratings of sociality of friends. 

Studies of the "popularity" of young children in the eyes of 
their age mates are somewhat more revealing as indications of the 
relationship of one child to others. Some of the significant find- 
ings of such studies are: one's ideas of one's self seem to be more 
closely related to the opinions of age mates than to those of adults 
(teachers in this case) [41]; less "popular" children tend to be 
less sure of their relationships to others in the group [36]; and 
relative status (popularity), once established, tends to be more or 
less lasting while the group is together. [5] 

Returning now to studies of the social behavior of young chil- 
dren in general, we find several which illustrate the progressive 
development of children's social relationships with age mates. 
Berne [4] found significant differences between older children 
(three- and four-year-olds) and younger children (two-year-olds) 
on a "social behavior rating scale" for such items as "interested in 
the group," "socially conformant," "sociable," "irresponsible for 
self," "irresponsible for others." In the latter items the older chil- 
dren were rated more responsible than the younger. These dif- 
ferences were also observed in experimental situations. For ex- 
ample, Berne measured co-operation by placing two children in 


a room with one group of toys. Co-operation was scored in terms 
of the amount of time spent playing with the other child. Co- 
operative behavior, as so measured, tended to increase with age. 
Evidence that children's social relationships become increasingly 
complex with age is found also in studies of social contacts, such 
as those of Beaver [3] who observed that the number of social 
contacts in play situations tends to increase with age. Green [25] 
found that the time spent in group play and the size of the group 
involved tended to increase with age. 

To stress the fact that children's participation in group games 
increases progressively with age in terms of the duration of the 
play activity and the size of the group may seem to be stressing 
a truism of common sense. However, in view of the emphasis 
sometimes placed on "sociability," extraversion, and intraversion, 
as inherent personality traits, the implications of the ^ progressive 
development of participation in group activities are important. 
These participations may serve as an index of developing sociabil- 
ity to which situational factors contribute so significantly. And 
such facts as these must be emphasized if we are to get an accurate 
picture of the way a person acquires his sense of social identity. 
For example, reversals in the characteristics of social behavior have 
been experimentally demonstrated. Jack [33] investigated "as- 
cendant" behavior in preschool children, ascendant behavior being 
defined in terms of the pursuit of a certain activity even against 
the interference and directing behavior of others and attempts to 
control the behavior of others. Finding that "self-confidence" or 
lack of it seemed to be the most outstanding difference between 
the most ascendant and nonascendant children, Jack trained the 
five most nonascendant children by giving them information about 
and chances to use the play materials. When again placed in the 
experimental situation, these subjects showed large and signifi- 
cant gains in the amount of ascendant behavior. A similar study 
was made by Page [48] using Jack's methods. Page summarizes 
her principal findings as follows: 

The data which have been presented offer proof of the modifiability 
of ascendant behavior in nonascendant and moderately ascendant 
three- and four-year-old children. This was accomplished by training 


designed to increase feelings of self-confidence. Tentative, but strongly 
suggestive, evidence is given that the effects of these training proce- 
dures are transferred to ordinary preschool situations. [48, 50] 

The investigations reviewed indicate further that the develop- 
ment of social behavior seems also to be dependent upon the 
amount and kind of contact with age mates. The results of Jer- 
sild and Fite [35] show that "children who have had previous 
nursery school experience enter into a decidedly larger average 
number of social contacts than do children who have not pre- 
viously attended nursery school." [100] This was found even 
when contacts made by children in the "old" group with their 
special companions were discounted. However, during the year, 
the "new" children increased their social contacts from only 54 
per cent as many as those of the "old" to 80 per cent as many con- 
tacts as made by the "old" group. "The opportunities for social 
participation afforded by the nursery school do not, according to 
the present findings, have the effect of submerging the child's own 
individuality." [108] Pointing to the necessity of appraising such 
data "in terms of its context" or situation, the authors describe 
the behavior of several children. These examples indicate that 
an increase or decrease in social contact is closely related to ego 
experiences coming from the stimulation of the group. 

One of the children in question made a very low score on social 
contacts in the fall. About half of these contacts were aggressive: 
the child "went after" other children, and conflicts ensued. His spring 
records showed a threefold increase in social contacts, evidences of 
greater security and enjoyment of the company of other children and 
of the nursery school situation, and a decided drop in the frequency 
of his conflicts. Another child likewise made a low score in social 
contacts in the fall, and was involved in scarcely any conflicts at all. 
She was withdrawn and yielding. In the spring, she showed a sixfold 
increase in social contacts, greater security and enjoyment of the com- 
pany of other children, and, with this, an increase in frequency of 
conflicts. Her conflicts took the form of protecting her own interests 
and play activities, and of warding off the attentions of a child who 
previously had sought to dominate her. The child's improved socia- 
bility, in this case, was accompanied by, and to some extent facilitated 


by, her readiness to rise to her own defense in carrying out her 
interests and in joining in the play of several children. In the third 
case, a boy who entered into a large number of social contacts in the 
fall exhibited a decrease in social contacts in the spring, and with this 
decrease there was an increase in relative frequency of fighting. This 
boy . . . had lost his hold on a child whom he had dominated in the 
fall; his records reveal that this loss was followed by signs of insecurity 
and loss of self-confidence. . . . [35, 103] 

A study carried out in the Soviet Union by Salusky [58] reveals 
the same general trend of social development through increased 
group contacts and participations. This study typifies the appli- 
cation of dialectical method and is particularly important because 
of the clue it gives for the study of any grouping (or collective) 
on the human level as contrasted to the study of interactions on 
inorganic or organic levels. Defining the collective as "a group 
of persons between whom is observed an interaction, a group 
which reacts as a whole to a given situation" [365], Salusky com- 
ments that interactions "of a social order have their own specific 
qualities, distinguishing them both from the interaction of un- 
organic particles and from the interaction of organic systems and 
organic elements." [375] 

In human associations we observe the interaction of the highest type. 
The best way of observing their genesis is in observation of children's 
collectives. [58, 368] 

Collectives may be spontaneous as in associations for play when 
the games originate with the children, or they may be organized, 
as in the case of daily meetings of homeless children. In either 
case, they may be of longer or shorter duration. Salusky believes 
that all types of such associations must be studied with a single 
systematic plan. 

For our present discussion and that to follow, Salusky's classifi- 
cation of stimuli is particularly important. Behavior in the col- 
lectives is determined by exogenous as well as endogenous stimuli, 
the former coining from the environment, the latter from the 
children and within the group itself. Mentioning first some im- 
portant endogenous stimuli, Salusky reports results of studies made 
in three districts of Ukrania. He finds a "basic tendency" that 


"associations of older children are of longer life than associations 
of younger children. It is only a tendency, not a general law." 
[371] The duration of collectives depends 

. . . largely upon the character of the game. The latter is deter- 
mined by the child's stock of experience and by the degree of forma- 
tion of his anatomic and physiological development. [58, 370] 

These factors are dependent to a large extent upon his age, but 
are also influenced by the milieu. Salusky noted a tendency for the 
number of children associated in collectives to increase with age. 
[371] However, as American studies have also shown, association 
in larger groups does occur, for a time at least, in the younger 

Finally, Salusky shows the influence of the milieu upon chil- 
dren's collectives. Two kindergartens in Kiev were observed. 
One group of children came chiefly from homes of qualified work- 
ers who lived a modern mode of life in an industrial area, were 
socially active, read newspapers and books. The second group 
came chiefly from parents who were "unskilled workers, small 
tradesmen, and in general, the proletariat" where the old mode 
of life prevailed. Salusky shows the difference in the kind of 
games played by children from these two environments. Whereas 
nearly half of the children in the second group participated in 
games representing the old mode of life, only about six per cent 
of the children in the first group participated in such games. A 
good share of the children coming from modern homes played 
games dramatizing the new way of life and modern technological 
developments, whereas children who lived the old way of life did 
not participate at all in such games. 

This study illustrates, in Salusky's words, that 

The behavior of the collective is determined by the children's 
environment and by the source of their experience. The stimuli of a 
situation act as the exciters. [58, 576] 

This point will help us in understanding the character and direc- 
tion of the activities of spontaneously formed boys' gangs to be 
discussed in chapter 10. 


Ego constituents derived from established society. As a result 
of participation in age-mate groups, children incorporate into 
themselves certain values which form their appropriate attitudes. 
We have previously pointed out the special importance of those 
attitudes produced by the inculcation of values by grown-ups, 
usually in the form of short-cut dictums. For these eventually 
form attitudes that define in a more or less lasting way the status 
and position of the individual in his community, in his class, in 
a "race" or nationality group, or, in short, in society at large. 
Such values pertaining to interfamily and class relationships, 
handed down by parents and other grown-ups in the immediate 
surroundings of the child, result in attitudes which are certainly 
not discrete unrelated items in the psychological make-up of the 
individual, but which become important constituents of the ego. 

Further experimental evidence can be mentioned here to sub- 
stantiate this point. For example, the studies of Ruth Horowitz 
[28, 29] and M. K. and K. B. Clark [10, 11] show that racial 
identifications and values, developing into lasting attitudes, are 
handed down by adults; and, further, that, if the child is to grasp 
the realistic grim meaning of these values to be incorporated as 
lasting attitudes, an appropriate degree of ego development is re- 
quired. Such development must precede the child's grasp of the 
realistic (as contrasted to the earlier autistic) scheme of social re- 
lationships, whatever this scheme may be in a particular society. 
In this connection, we add, with larger society in view, that the 
grown-ups involved in this process are usually transmitting the 
values or norms which prevail in society at large, or in their par- 
ticular section of society. 

Horowitz investigated 24 children in a public nursery school, 
ranging in age from two to five years. [28] Some of the children 
were white, some Negro. In Horowitz' words, the study 

... is limited to children's emergent awareness of themselves, with 
reference to a specific social grouping. It deals with the beginnings 
of race-consciousness conceived as a function of ego-development. [28, 

Various pictures of white and Negro children were shown, and 
the child was then asked to tell which child in the picture was 


himself. Horowitz found that, on the average, over 60 per cent 
of the Negro children and about 40 per cent of the white children 
made color divisions in their choices. Commenting on this differ- 
ence, she says' that, for the Negro children, 

It is as if the contrast there presented is a lesson well learned and 
perceived immediately in terms of its pertinent elements. [28] 

She traces this "lesson well learned" to the "constriction of the 
adult environment" in the homes of the Negro children. 

In this same study, the girls were asked to identify both them- 
selves and their brothers or playmates. Finding that the girls 
adhered to color divisions considerably less in the latter case, the 
investigator suggests: 

One is evidently clearer about one's own role and distinguishing 
characteristics than about those of another person. [28, 98] 

Her conclusion is that 

These data seem to point to the concept of group consciousness and 
group identification as an intrinsic aspect of ego-development and basic 
to the understanding of the dynamics of attitude function in the adult 
personality. Before the ego has been completely formed, in the very 
process of becoming, we find it subtly appropriating a visible symbol 
that has been socially institutionalized to aid it in its work of marking 
itself off from all the not-self of which until such demarcation has 
been established it partakes. This may mean, however, that the self 
is defined in terms that make successive demarcations necessary, since 
in the perception of a difference an assertion of identification is in- 
volved. The individual's attitude toward his group evidently is an 
integral part of himself, in terms of which he is fashioned, under 
some circumstances of life. [28, 99] 

Horowitz [29] has also attempted by the picture technique to 
study other identifications of preschool children, for example, age, 
size, sex, familial position or status, economic status. The most 
correct identifications were found in terms of sex and familial 
position. Other referents produced some confusion, for interest- 
ing reasons. For example, in using the pictures of children of 
different sizes, Horowitz found that the choice depended greatly 
on whom the child related to himself. If he related himself to 


"little brother," he, of course, chose the larger of the children as 
himself, while, if to a "big boy," he chose the smaller. The other 
pictures proved to be somewhat ambiguous for the children in one 
way or another. 

Before leaving these studies, we should report an observation 
which illustrates the relative value self-identifications may have 
for a young child. A little girl who had beautiful curly hair made 
color distinctions in her choices rather consistently until she saw 
a picture in which the Negro child had curly hair. Although she 
had given clear evidence of recognizing the skin differences pre- 
viously, this child, whose hair had undoubtedly often been ad- 
mired, would not admit any skin difference in this case and clung 
to her choice of the curly haired child. 

Continuing along the lines of Horowitz' provocative study, 
K. B. and M. K. Clark [10] studied 150 Negro children in segre- 
gated nursery schools. Fifty children were in each of the three-, 
four-, and five-year age groups. The technique used was essen- 
tially the same as Horowitz'. Some of the pictures included ani- 
mals. These investigators also found that boys adhered to color 
divisions more consistently in choosing their own picture than did 
girls who were asked to choose their brothers or playmates. The 
resulting choices for boys showed an increase in the percentage 
of choices of Negro children from 31.5 per cent at age three to 
63 per cent at age five. In the three-year-old group, 17.6 per cent 
of the choices were of animals. Such choices did not occur after 
three years of age. Some five-year-olds refused to make choices, 
remarking, "I'm not in that picture," or "This is a white boy; this 
is a colored boy; this is a lion," and so on. 

Later, these same investigators conducted an ingenious study 
[11] using as subjects children of the same age groups, 33 of whom 
were of light coloring, 66 of medium coloring, and 54 of dark 
coloring. As they stated: 

An investigation of the factors inherent in the genesis of racial 
identification would obviously lead to an understanding of the dy- 
namics of self -consciousness and its social determinants. [11, 159] 

The picture technique was employed again. The results showed 
that the light children chose a Negro child in the pictures in 36.5 


per cent of their total choices, the medium children in 52.6 per 
cent, and the dark children in 56.4 per cent. The percentage of 
choices of Negro children increased for the color groups with age. 
In the case of the light group, the increase was only 34.6 per cent 
at three years to 38.8 per cent at five years. The dark group, on 
the other hand, increased from 52,3 per cent at three years to 70.1 
per cent at five. These results are comparable to those obtained 
by Marks in his study of the judgments of adult Negroes of vary- 
ing complexions, (pp. 136 /.) On the basis of these results, the 
Clarks concluded: 

It may be stated that consciousness of self as different from others 
on the basis of observed skin color precedes any consciousness of self 
in terms of socially defined group differences in these Negro children. 
[11, 161] 

At this stage it appears that concepts of self gleaned from the con- 
crete physical characteristics of perceived self become modified by 
social factors, taking on a new definition in the light of these social 
factors. [11, 168] 

We have already pointed out that prejudices are not so much the 
outcome of direct personal contacts with the groups toward which 
the prejudice is directed, but generally are, rather, the result of 
contacts with the attitudes others have toward these groups. The 
fact has been recently confirmed by Jersild [34] who emphasizes 
the influence of in-group identifications on the formation of these 
attitudes which become so important in defining personal identity. 
Jersild believes that everyday experiences are not so important in 
the acceptance of certain attitudes toward various groups as "the 
influences that come at second hand, the prejudices passed on to 
the child by his elders, the attitudes that he comes to adopt through 
precept and example in the culture that surrounds him." [424] 

Frequently, prejudice thus has its inception in the home, even 
though neither of the two parents openly displays any antipathy for 
another group. The child may acquire an attitude of distrust simply 
by being exposed to family and cultural traditions which set the child 
and his people off from others. The very fact that a child is made 
aware of the national origin of his parents means that he is being 
influenced to identify himself with one group rather than another. 
[34, 425, italics ours] 


Extensive studies by Davis [15, 16] furnish ample evidence that 
children's attitudes are derived from the material conditions and 
social environments in which they develop. These attitudes in- 
clude their relative standing and distance with regard to other 
children of different classes, their lasting likes and dislikes, and 
their views on major issues that confront them; all of which con- 
tribute to the formation of their egos. Davis' generalizations, 
based on the rich material at his command, neatly summarize the 
influence of established society upon the developing ego: 

The number of class controls and dogmas which a child must learn 
and struggle continually to maintain, in order to meet his family's 
status demands as a class unit, is great. Class training of the child 
ranges all the way from the control of the manner and ritual by which 
he eats his food to the control of his choice of playmates and of his 
educational and occupational goals. The times and places for his 
recreation, the chores required of him by his family, the rooms and 
articles in the house which he may use, the wearing of certain clothes 
at certain times, the amount of studying required of him, the economic 
controls to which he is subjected by his parents, indeed his very con- 
ceptions of right and wrong, all vary according to the social class of 
the child in question. Our knowledge of social-class training and of 
the biological and psychological differentials in child development as 
between class environments is now sufficient to enable us to say that 
no studies can henceforth generalize about "the child." We shall 
always have to ask, "A child of what class, in what environment?" 

In this chapter we have reviewed some of the evidence which 
so firmly establishes the fact that die ego is formed in the course 
of genetic development. In the next chapters, dealing with ado- 
lescence, we shall see how the ego can and does become re-formed 
during the individual's crucial transition from child to adult. And 
in a later chapter we review some of the evidence which establishes 
the further fact that the ego can be de-formed, can and does break 
down and disintegrate under the stress of situational and patho- 
logical conditions (ch. 12). This formation, re-formation, and 
possible de-formation of the ego completely belie any notion that 
the ego is an innate entity. 



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In the last chapter we found that an impressive array of studies, 
accumulated over several decades, all point to the fact that the ego 
is a genetic formation, developing from the child's contact with 
his physical and social surroundings. We saw what diverse fac- 
tors and conditions contribute to ego formation. The infant 
learns, for example, to delineate his own body as his; he learns 
that he has a name and around this name or personal pronouns 
he gathers many characteristics that define his psychological iden- 
tity. With the acquisition of language, ego-expansion evolves at 
a more rapid pace, encompassing the surrounding standardized 
human relationships and social norms. When a child is able to 
grasp reciprocal relationships extending beyond momentary needs 
and immediate perceptual reactions, ego development is affected 
in an important way by his absorbed participation in age-mate 

Yet no matter how important these factors may be, even 
throughout the whole life of an individual, any account of ego 
development as it functions on the adult level will suffer major 
deficiencies if the ego problems encountered during adolescence 
are neglected. For there are certain facts, almost truisms, which 
make the period of genetic development from early to late ado- 
lescence crucial for the psychology of ego formation. 


By the time the child reaches puberty, he has become a mem- 
ber of a family, a social class, a nation; he is part of the constella- 
tions formed by his school, by his neighborhood friends, or by 
discriminations based on sex. All of these situations carry their 



prevailing values which determine subsequent attitudes. But the 
youngster still has to acquire or be ascribed a full-fledged adult 
male or female status with its particular adult rights, privileges, 
and responsibilities. After maturing sexually as a full-fledged 
male or female, ready to function physiologically, almost over- 
flowing, he thus faces norms and serious regulations in his sur- 
roundings which postpone, deny, or regulate his sex activities. 

Whatever the effects of infantile sexuality may be up to puberty 
(a point orthodox psychoanalysts have been so concerned about- 
sec chapter 14) a whole host of norms, expectations, and regula- 
tions relating to femininity and masculinity now have to be faced. 

In some societies, the individual is initiated into economic life 
during the adolescent period. In other societies, he at least seri- 
ously starts to look forward or to prepare for some trade or pro- 
fession. He may have to enter into the economic work of the 
adult world before he is fully matured physiologically, as is still 
the case in countries at the feudal economic level, and as was strik- 
ingly seen during the period of ruthless child labor in the last few 
centuries. Or the adolescent may have to assume economic re- 
sponsibilities owing to the poverty of his family. Situations such 
as these will contribute to the early development and sharpening 
of the ego, while in other respects the youngster may lag behind. 
This is likely to result in an out-of-phase development which pro- 
duces its own problems. In various societies, adolescents may be 
ascribed a definite adult status in earlier or later adolescence. And 
the status is, of course, circumscribed in a major way by the eco- 
nomic class and the social position of his family. 

In short, the years covered by adolescence are usually a period 
of transition from childhood to adult status with all its economic, 
social, and sexual aspects. From the point of view of ego develop- 
ment, a period during which status changes in so many important 
aspects of life should be of crucial significance. For shifts in 
objective status are reflected as ego-shifts in the psychology of the 
individual. Psychologically speaking, it is especially in the ego 
of the individual that any status problem finds its echo. 

When societies are in a period of rapid transition, the resulting 
confusions in status create added problems for adolescents who are 
themselves in a stage of transition as they strive for adult status. 


Today almost all the countries of the world are in such a state of 
transition. Even the patterns of culture of less developed peoples 
are no exception, for to some degree they are affected by the 
inescapable impact of the technology and imperialisms of ad- 
vanced Western societies. In addition, the contradictory economic 
and social norms which antagonistic groups attempt to perpetuate 
contribute their share in making status problems (ego problems) 
more complicated, even conflicting, especially for adolescents. 
The adolescent's plight is still further complicated by the alternat- 
ing treatment he receives from adults: at times he is treated as 
a grown-up, at other times as a child. 

The flux and crisis situations adolescents have to go through, 
at times unsuccessfully, in their strivings for a secure social status, 
provide excellent opportunity for the study of many problems 
concerned with the psychology of the ego and ego-involvements. 
Changes brought about by sexual maturity, by significant bodily 
developments with their accompanying serious effects on attitudes 
of masculinity and femininity, shifts (or preparation for shifts) 
in economic roles, and actual or more seriously anticipated shifts 
in social status, all make the period of adolescence a crucial stage 
of psychological transition involving ego problems. We have de- 
liberately referred to this further development of the ego as a 
period of re-formation. In view of the complexity, many-sided- 
ness, and interrelatedness of the problems encountered at this 
stage, they should be considered from many angles: physiological, 
economic, sociological, and others. In this and the following chap- 
ter, we can consider only those features of adolescence directly 
related to the main conceptual scheme of this book. 


In dealing with problems of social psychology, there is almost 
always the danger of generalizing on the basis of behavior seen in 
one particular culture. Many social psychologists, as well as other 
social scientists, have fallen into the pitfalls of their diverse com- 
munity centrisms. The comparative studies of different cultures 
and different times made by ethnologists and sociologists help us 
to acquire the distance necessary to relate events with a realistic 


perspective. For example, G. Stanley Hall's [8] colorful drama- 
tizations of adolescence as a universal period of "storm and stress" 
and characterizations of primitive societies as "adolescent" are 
challenged on the basis of comparative observations. The pre- 
vailing romanticism in Europe during the last century which 
made for the immense popularity among youth of books like 
Werther with their pessimistic sentimentalism is almost a dead 
issue today for the descendants of these very youngsters. The 
Wagnerian heroics and ruthless arrogance displayed in no uncer- 
tain terms by many German adolescents who under the well- 
organized tutelage of Hitler-Jugend even spied on their own par- 
ents, seems to have faded. German youth today presents a "pic- 
ture of inconsistency and confusion." [18, 4] 

Observations found in diverse studies of different cultures and 
times lead us to the conclusion that the special problems of ado- 
lescence, the ease or difficulty, and the duration of youths' transi- 
tion to a settled adult status will vary with the economic and 
social circumstances and the values of particular cultures. In com- 
paratively simple and undifferentiated societies, the transition to 
adulthood may be achieved through various sorts of initiation 
ceremonies. At the completion of these ceremonies, which vary 
from culture to culture in duration, phase, and the ordeals en- 
tailed, the young person may find himself ascribed with adult 
status, privileges, and responsibilities with their unmistakable and 
serious psychological consequences. [19, 28, 30] The more or less 
stable and integrated nature of social organization and cultural 
norms displayed in these cultures (more so formerly than now) 
are important factors which reduce the perplexities and confusions 
that face a youth in his transition to adulthood. In some cultures, 
the transition to adulthood may be so clearly and definitely recog- 
nized that the boy or girl may be designated by new names at 
these initiation ceremonies. For example, the Andamanese girl 
acquires a "flower name" at the beginning of menstruation [3, 
119]i the Arunta boy who goes through the laborious initiation 
ceremonies gets different names at different phases of initiation. 
[24, 85 /.] In one of the Melanesian groups, in which marriage 
takes place at a fairly youthful age, both parties relinquish their 
former names for a new common name. [25, 347] 


Diverse and not infrequently contradictory economic and social 
status problems; complicated marriage requirements, considera- 
tions, and norms of highly differentiated Western societies usually 
prolong the transition stage with various kinds of conflict situa- 
tions and suspensions. In these societies, therefore, it is not hard 
to find cases of restless old maids or eccentric bachelors who dis- 
play fantasies and other unsettled modes of behavior more or less 
peculiar to adolescents. 

A glance at the observations of the adolescent period from stud- 
ies of primitive cultures reveals diverse types of adolescent transi- 
tions. Some transitions are rapid, some prolonged. Some are full 
of painful ordeals; others are comparatively easy. In these and 
other respects, different gradations, as determined by the economic 
and cultural characteristics of diverse cultures, can easily be found 
in the welter of ethnological literature. The social and cultural 
norms regulating the activities of adolescent boys or girls may 
considerably reduce puzzling adolescent problems and difficulties. 
On the basis of Mead's studies, Klineberg [11] generalizes: 

Margaret Mead . . . who has studied Samoan society from this 
point of view, writes that there the adolescent girl differs from the 
non-adolescent only in the fact of bodily changes; there is no conflict, 
no revolt, no mental disturbance or neurosis; only an easy transition 
to a new status. There are several reasons for this, as Miss Mead 
points out. The problem of sex, which in one form or another creates 
difficulties for almost every adolescent in our society, is practically 
nonexistent. Samoan society permits premarital intimacies, and shortly 
after puberty almost every young boy and girl enters into a series of 
"affairs." These can hardly be called "love affairs," because love in 
the romantic sense in which we know it rarely enters; but they are 
for that reason no less able to satisfy an urge which in our society is 
probably the most important single source of torment and disturbance. 
[11, 308] 

But in view of certain facts that Margaret Mead herself reports 
[20], adolescent girls even in Samoa seem to face some problems 
and conflicting situations, unless the psychological principles that 
operate in them are altogether different from those of other human 
beings. Thus: 


The first attitude which a little girl learns towards boys is one of 
avoidance and antagonism. . . . After a little girl is eight or nine years 
of age she has learned never to approach a group of older boys. [20, 


Not until she is an old married woman with several children will 
the Samoan girl again regard the opposite sex so quietly. [20, 86] 

Following a custom of Samoa, the young man sends "a confidant 
and ambassador whom he calls a soa" to secure intimacy with a 
girl. [89 f.] 

But if he chooses a handsome and expert wooer who knows just 
how "to speak softly and walk gently," then as likely as not the girl 
will prefer the second to the principal. This difficulty is occasionally 
anticipated by employing two or three soas and setting them to spy on 
each other. But such a lack of trust is likely to inspire a similar atti- 
tude in the agents, and as one overcautious and disappointed lover told 
me ruefully, "I had five soas, one was true and four were false." [20, 


The most violent antagonisms in the young people's groups are not 
between ex-lovers, arise not from the venom of the deserted nor the 
smarting pride of the jilted, but occur between the boy and the soa 
who has betrayed him, or a lover and the friend of his beloved who 
has in any way blocked his suit. [20, 97] 

It would be surprising if, in these intrigues in sexual affairs, even 
though they may be of short duration, the girl, too, does not face 
some complications. Also, as Klineberg [12] later indicated: 

Certain problems of interpretation in connection with the Samoan 
material still remain. There is, for instance, the fact that the adoles- 
cent girls do not engage in sex activity immediately after puberty; 
usually there is an interval of two or three years. [12, 493] 

In view of some other observations reported by Mead to the 
effect that the wives of titled men derive "their status from their 
husbands" [20, 77], that "a girl's chances of marriage are badly 
damaged if it gets about the village that she is lazy and inept in 


domestic tasks" [33], and that a premium is put on virginity for 
marriage [98f.]> it seems safe to say that girls who are expected to 
conform to these norms do have to face at least a few adolescent 
problems in their transition to adulthood. 

In other studies of adolescence in primitive societies, Mead's ma- 
terial indicates that this period, while not universally a period of 
"storm and stress," does involve problems varying both in inten- 
sity and kind in different cultures, depending upon their socio- 
economic structure and the superstructure of norms regulating 
behavior. Another society in which the period might be consid- 
ered relatively less difficult than in others is that of the Arapesh 
of New Guinea [22]. Among them certain norms deem "that 
all human beings, male and female, are naturally unaggressive, 
self-denying, lightly sexed, comfortably domestic, concerned with 
growing food to feed growing children." [19, xix} In spite of 
the fact, as Mead reports it, that children of seven or eight have 
acquired a happy and confident attitude toward life, a warm 
affection toward their fellows, and respectful unaggressive treat- 
ment of them, the adolescent period involves the formation of 
new attitudes and entrance into new economic and social rela- 
tionships. At this time, Arapesh children are for the first time 
"made culturally self-conscious of the physiology of sex." [22, 62] 
The parents have been held responsible for the child's growth 
until then. Now the boy is held to be "the responsible custodian 
of his own growth." [62] This involves taboos relating to his 
genitals, including "disciplinary and hygienic use of stinging net- 
tles and actual bleeding with a sharpened bamboo instrument." 
[62] When the adolescent boy is initiated, he gains important 
secrets of the tribe, is segregated from women, observes certain 
food taboos, and is incised. 

They are subjected to a divinatory ceremony to find out whether 
they have been experimenting with sex or not, something that they 
know is forbidden because it will stunt natural growth. [22, 75] 

The punishment for the guilty boy involves the "deeply felt" hu- 
miliation of publicly violating an important taboo. The boy must 
also stop the oral play in which he has engaged since childhood. 
On the other hand, certain aspects of these ceremonies are wholly 


pleasant. The boys are well-fed and usually emerge "almost 
plump." They now assume many of their fathers' economic and 
social responsibilities. 

When an Arapesh girl is seven or eight, she is engaged to a boy 
about six years her senior, and lives in his family's home. Here 
she lives until puberty as she would with her own family. As 
she "approaches puberty, her parents-in-law increase supervision 
of her" to prevent premarital sex activities. An elaborate cere- 
mony occurs at the girl's first menstruation, much of the ritual 
being designed "to cut out the girl's connexion with her past." [93] 
She fasts for five or six days, takes part in public ceremonies. 
However, after the ceremonies, "the betrothed girl's life goes on 
as before." She now comes to think of her betrothed in the role 
of a future husband rather than in the big-brother role to which 
she has become accustomed. There is a period of waiting before 
the actual marriage. 

Observations on the Tchambuli [22] are also pertinent for our 
discussion of ego problems among adolescents of diverse cultures. 
For among them, according to Mead, there is a variation in the 
intensity and kind of adolescent problems encountered by the 
two sexes. In Mead's words: 

The Tchambuli attempt to standardize the personality of the sexes 
in contrasting ways they expect men to be responsive, interested in 
the arts, women to be bold, initiating, economically more responsible. 

The situation is made more complicated by the continuation of 

. . . patriarchal forms combined with personalities more appropriate 
to matriarchy. . . Such mixed and badly co-ordinated elements 
cause a good deal of confusion and functional maladjustment, espe- 
cially in the young men. [19, xxi] 

Tchambuli women raise the food, weave the mosquito bags 
which are valuable both for use and trade, and are in charge of 
property, although men are the nominal owners. Men, on the 
other hand, spend their time in art work and preparing for elabo- 
rate ceremonials. Until just before adolescence, the boy is cared 
for lavishly by women. After initiation ceremonies, 


He is supposed to spend more time in the men's house, but he still 
takes refuge among the women whenever possible. He grows grad- 
ually into young manhood; his father and elder brothers watching 
jealously his attitude towards their younger wives and suspecting him 
if he walks about upon the women's road. [22, 257] 

In order to engage in sexual activities, he must be chosen by a 
woman. But in order to marry, he must get a marriage price 
from his male relatives. If he is attractive, versed in the dance, 
soft-spoken, and resourceful, he may be chosen by more than one 
woman. On the other hand, the older men watch the boys jeal- 
ously and try their best "to shame and disgrace them before the 
women." [259] 

Although Mead gives less information about the girls, it is evi- 
dent that adolescent Tchambuli girls have different and decidedly 
less pressing problems, since from birth they grow up more and 
more a part of the solid group of women, whose activities are 
characterized by "comradeship, efficient, happy work" [252] and 
comparatively little quarreling. 

In contrast to the Samoans and Arapesh, the Manus adolescent 
faces the difficult task of entering an adult world as a strikingly 
different person from his childhood self. The Manus of the Ad- 
miralty Islands are characterized by Mead [21] as 

. . . driven by a harsh competitive system, hard working and with 
little tolerance for pleasure or art; each man worked for himself and 
for his own household; the future economic security of one's children 
was a principal goal. But the children had no part in this adult world 
of money values and hard work; they were left free to play all day 
in a pleasant co-operative world where there was no property and no 
possessiveness. . . . And yet, when they passed adolescence, the gener- 
ous gay co-operative Manus children turned into grasping competitive 
Manus adults. [19, xii] 

From the time the Manus children are three, they are made 
"ashamed of their bodies, ashamed of excretion, ashamed of their 
sex organs." [21, 205] When a girl or boy is engaged, she or he 
can no longer be seen in the presence of relatives of the betrothed. 
The breach of this taboo involves as much shame as that learned 
in connection with the body. 


Puberty for girls means the beginning of adult life and responsibil- 
ity, the end of play, careless companionship, happy hours of desultory 
ranging through the village. [21, 775] 

Because of the taboos, there are few friends available to die ado- 
lescent girl and her childhood play groups break up. 

She makes no new friends, but she sees less and less of her old 
friends. [775] 

At menstruation the girl's pact with her sex is sealed forever. She 
learns that not only must she endure first menstruation, but the strange 
fact, the fact that no man in all Manus knows, that she will menstru- 
ate every moon and must hide all trace or knowledge of her condition 
from everyone. [21, 757 /.] 

This fact "is locked away in the girl's mind as a guilty and shame- 
ful secret." [184] For several months, the ceremonies attending 
this event drag on, during which time the girl must stay indoors. 

Past puberty, betrothed, tabu, and respectable, the girl is expected to 
settle down peacefully to her labours, to submit silently to eternal 
supervision. The slightest breath of scandal means a public scene and 
exaggerated ignominy. . . . No girl can manage a long career of 
rebellion. While she sins, all of her kin, her betrothed's kin, her 
betrothed, her partner-in-sin, she herself, are in danger of death from 
the ever observant spirits. [21, 185] 

She is not yet a full-fledged member of society. Ordinarily, 

These years are not years of storm and stress, nor are they years of 
placid unfolding of the personality. They are years of waiting, years 
which are an uninteresting and not too exacting bridge between the 
free play of childhood and the obligations of marriage. [21, 189] 

During these boring years as a "very much inhibited spectator," 
"she gets the culture by heart." [189] Some girls rebel. 

When Manus boys reach puberty, their gay play is interrupted 
for a few weeks to have their ears pierced and to take part in a' 
feast. Then they return to their play. However, by this time, the 
girls of their age have retired, and the play group is composed onlv 
of younger children and male age mates. 

The boys form closer friendships, go about more in pairs, make 
more of the casual homosexuality current in childhood. There is 


much roughhouse, arm linking, whispered conferences, sharing of 
secret caches of tobacco. [21, 193] 

Because of this absorption in his age-mate group, the boy rebels 
actively if his parents decide upon his initiation before most of his 
age mates have theirs. 

A year or so later, "all Manus boys go away to work two years, 
five years, sometimes seven years for the white man." [196] 
During this time, the boy may be "lonely and homesick, over- 
worked, hungry, sulky, shrinking and afraid," or he may have 
strange and absorbing new experiences and friendships. However, 
in either case, his experiences in no way prepare him for adult 
life in his village, "of which he has a fundamental dread." [200] 

"Now comes the time when the young man must marry." [206] 
Since he is in no way prepared, he must plunge heavily into debt 
for household and work equipment which no Manus boy pos- 
sesses. His life undergoes a radical change. He becomes utterly 
shamefacedly dependent on his backers. Before him lies the op- 
portunity of regaining self-respect in his society by "hard dealing, 
close-fisted methods, stinginess, saving, ruthlessness" or continued 
dependence and shame. [208 /.] 

If ... childhood had never been, if every father had set about 
making his newborn son into a sober, anxious, calculating, bad tem- 
pered little businessman, he could hardl" have succeeded more per- 
fectly. [21, 210] 

In another tribe studied by Mead [22], the Mundugumors, ado- 
lescence is so frequently a period of intensified struggle and pas- 
sion, that we shall mention only a few of the problems met there. 

They [the Mundugumors] assume that all children, male and 
female, are naturally aggressive and hostile. [19, xx] 

As a result of a Spartan-like childhood, 

Pre-adolescent Mundugumor children have an appearance of harsh 
maturity and, aside from sex-experience, are virtually assimilated to 
the individualistic patterns of their society by the time they are twelve 
or thirteen. Initiation comes to girls as somewhat of a privilege 
granted to them in proportion as they are aggressive and demanding, 
to boys as a penalty they cannot escape. . . . [22, 212] 


Under such circumstances, the acquisition of adult status could 
hardly be expected to be a pleasant process for the Mundugumor 

There is a premium upon virginity, and a vigorous, positively sexed 
group of young girls who plan their own affairs in spite of a restrictive 
chaperonage. There is a social standard which prescribes that the 
sister is used in payment for her brother's wife, and a continuous 
flouting of this standard by her father, her brother, and the sisterless 
lover who attempts to abduct her. [22, 222 f.] 

As a result of these practices, the adolescent girl or boy may find 
himself married to a boy or girl literally years younger than he 
or she. Even after marriage, the struggle to satisfy basic needs 
and to gain satisfactory adult status continues. 

In his account of the adolescent period of the Kwomas of New 
Guinea, Whiting writes: 

Next to the weaning period, adolescence is the most turbulent time 
in the life of a Kwoma individual, a period marked by the learning of 
many new habits and the facing of many new problems. [31, 65] 

Kwoma boys enter adolescence formally with their initiation into 
the first age-grade group, whereas girls undergo rites at the time 
of their first menstruation. The period is closed formally at a 
ceremony in which the boy or girl is cicatrized, at about the age 
of sixteen or seventeen. The ceremonies for adolescent boys and 
girls include a period of seclusion for about two months, while 
the boys undergo painful trials, dancing, and other tests. On this 
occasion, sexual license is permitted to all except the youngest 
initiates (pubescent boys). Since the age-grade ceremony for the 
boys occurs only once every five years, the formal period of ado- 
lescence for boys may last from one to three years and may cor- 
respond only roughly to his pubescent period. Because these rites 
give a boy "privileges and immunities which Kwoma culture 
grants to persons in this category" [67], the disparity between 
physiological development and status in the group resulting from 
the infrequency of the ceremonies would presumably be trying 
for the boy who develops between ceremonies or shortly after a 
ceremony. The initiation does, in fact, give the adolescent "a de- 


fined status superior to those of his brothers who have not yet 
undergone them. Whereas during childhood a command-obey 
relationship had to be fought out, and was usually established on 
the basis of size and age, now the relationship is culturally de- 
termined." [92] 

Economically, the boy or girl now becomes an asset, engaging 
in tasks prescribed for members of his sex. The adequate per- 
formance of these new tasks has a direct bearing on the status of 
the adolescent, for 

One of the criteria by which a girl chooses a man for a lover or a 
husband is his ability as a worker. Other things equal, the more 
industrious a boy is, the more he is sought after by the girls. Lazy 
lads are shunned. . . . Industriousness on the part of the girl is an 
even more important criterion of attractiveness than for a boy. [72] 

However, full participation in the economic and social life is not 
yet possible. Restrictions are put on such acts as the performance 
of certain tasks, on approaches to members of the opposite sex, ex- 
posure of certain parts of the body. Philandering before marriage 
does occur, but it is frequently accompanied by anxiety since the 
boy faces danger from the girl's relatives, and the girl is under 
pressure from her brothers who fear that if her reputation is poor 
"her value as a potential wife" will be decreased. 

The Kwoma adolescent suffers certain contradictions in status 
since, at this time, when he thinks of himself and fulfills the activi- 
ties of a near-adult, he must continue "to behave towards his par- 
ents and his paternal uncles and aunts as he did in childhood." 
Sometimes the adolescent may revolt against this continued au- 
thority of elders. An adolescent boy may also retaliate against 
what he feels as unjust treatment by breaking or threatening to 
break "his relationship with any adult or adolescent relative." [94] 

As another cultural variation of adolescent problems, we sum- 
marize briefly a few points from the case of an American Indian. 
The anthropologist Paul Radin secured and published the auto- 
biography of a Winnebago Indian [23]. This intimate life history, 
presented in longitudinal sequence, is especially valuable in re- 
vealing the reciprocal effects of the impact of culture and the 
counteracting adolescent impulses. The Winnebago adolescent is 


required to fast in seclusion for days so that he may be blessed by 
the spirits. We see in the autobiography how conflicts between 
cultural norms and the urge for eating take place under the stress 
of hunger and how the dictates of hunger prevail. Likewise, a 
psychological situation arising from a Winnebago sexual taboo is 
interesting. Among the Winnebago, 

Any contact with menstruating women, or even with objects in any 
way connected with them, will, it is believed, destroy the power of 
sacred objects or individuals temporarily sacred. [23, 387] 

Hence menstruating girls are secluded in lodges. This particular 
Winnebago Indian gives detailed accounts of how he and other 
boys took advantage of this seclusion of girls to approach them 
and of the careful planning and hardships they had to go through 
to enter the lodges secretly at night. 

In a memorable chapter on "The Crises of Life and Transition 
Rites," Radin [24], who is more concerned with the recurrent 
human and socioeconomic implications of his material than with 
exotic presentations, gives a penetrating synthesis of these transition 

Two distinct sets of circumstances, one physiological, the other eco- 
nomic-social, thus conspired to make of puberty one outstanding 
focus which was to serve as the prototype for all other periods inter- 
preted as transitional. [24, 79] 

In short, these rites mark definite shifts in the social and economic 
status of the individual and the "passing of an individual from 
the position of an economic liability to that of an economic and 
social asset." [79] This new status generates new ego-attitudes 
related to work, to the opposite sex, and to other persons. Taking 
as his examples the Arunta of Australia, the Selknam of Tierra 
del Fuego, the New Caledonians, the Ashanti of West Africa, and 
the Thonga of South Africa, Radin shows variations in transition 
as determined by the socioeconomic organization and the deriva- 
tive cultural norms existing in each of these cultures. The relative 
ease or difficulty and duration of the transition in each case is 
especially dependent on the particular socioeconomic circumstances 
of society. To cite another variation from Radin's material, among 


the Ashanti of West Africa (unlike many other cultures), "only 
the girls go through a puberty ceremony." [94] The girls are 
"carried at certain parts of the ritual" because at this period "they 
are newly born and cannot walk." [94] 

Radin maintains that, in spite of all of the variations displayed 
as steps of transition from adolescence to adulthood, their basic 
function, the "basic formula," is the same in all of them, that is, 
rendering the child "an economic and social asset" from a state of 
dependence and liability. The existence of puberty rites for girls 
alone among the Ashanti of West Africa is no exception to the 
basic formula. 

In the case of women the physiological facts the first menstruation, 
pregnancy, and childbirth at first dwarfed the social-economic 
factors; in the case of men the social-economic factors from the very 
beginning dwarfed the physiological. This was natural enough at a 
period in man's existence where woman's position was at best undif- 
ferentiated, politically and economically. The social-economic im- 
plications of this situation thus being so much more important for the 
man, it is not surprising that the puberty rites for him have always 
remained far more complex and differentiated than those for the 
woman. The latter became progressively more complex as her eco- 
nomic functions became more important, after the introduction of 
agriculture, for instance. Occasionally, as in some West African 
tribes, puberty rites exist for her only. [24, 83] 

Psychologically, all of these steps, trials ceremonies and preach- 
ingswhich achieve the transition of the adolescent to the adult 
status mean formation of attitudes related to his new relative role 
in society, his conformity in respecting the property and sex rights 
of elders and interest groups, his settling down in the place as- 
signed him by the established authority of his society. 

But we do not even have to go to Western Africa or the distant 
Pacific islands to achieve perspective. The social psychologist can 
also acquire it if he has won a historical sense with respect to his 
culture. Here is a concrete illustration of this lack of perspective. 
G. Stanley Hall in 1904 devoted a chapter of 82 pages to the prob- 
lems of religious conversions connected with adolescence. [8, vol. 
2, ch. 14] With respect to religious conversions, Hall states, for 


In its most fundamental sense, conversion is a natural, normal, 
universal, and necessary process at the stage when life pivots over 
from an autocentric to an heterocentric basis. [8, vol. 2, 301] 

Four decades later, in the same country, Harold Jones [10], one of 
the outstanding authorities in the field of adolescence, has to 
correct in more modest terms what Hall had held to be a universal 

As a symptom of adolescence, religious "conversion" is probably 
less common now than in the generation of which G. Stanley Hall 
wrote. Sometimes, indeed we note the opposite of conversion, in an 
adolescent revolt which leads to an active repudiation of religious 
concepts and practices. [10, 108] 

This trend is substantiated by others. For instance, a "Boy Survey" 
by Middletown's Optimist Club of 3,771 boys in the county indi- 
cated that only 39 per cent of boys from 8 to 16 years of age were 
church members. [14, 304] A more recent substantiation comes 
in a survey made by Weaver [29], himself a professor of religion. 
Weaver asked high school principals, judges, chairmen of church 
and school boards, and active laymen "in many urban centers" to 
guess "what percentage of boys and girls in your community 14-18 
years of age have an appreciable relationship with the church, 
church school, or church young people's societies ? By 'appreciable' 
I mean something less than regular attendance but something 
more than 'just Easter and Christmas.'" The guesses ranged 
"from 15 per cent to 30 per cent of the youth population." [159] 
On the basis of this and other surveys he reviewed, Weaver con- 

Youth are less interested and less active in organized religion than 
in any other major institution of our culture. [29, 756] 

Until recently, it was almost customary, especially in elite circles, 
to think of young Russian intellectuals as highly introspective and 
pessimistic, something like the Dostoievsky character, Roskolnikov. 
But in reality, the behavior of the young Comsomols as observed, 
for example, by Frankwood Williams [32] even in the early 1930's, 
and the majority of artistic expressions of Soviet novels and films, 
such as The Road to Ufa the New Gulliver, Zoya, and Simonov's 


Days and Nights, reflect an abounding optimism and good-natured 
striving. In fact, the Russian generations brought up under the 
Soviet system reflect characteristics which are almost the exact 
opposite of morbid introspection, self-pity, or self-justification. 

In a highly developed, highly differentiated, and changing social 
system in which cultural norms of past centuries exist side by side 
with new norms brought about chiefly by technological develop- 
ments, adolescents face conflicting values which make their transi- 
tion to settled adult life more difficult. In their penetrating analysis 
of Middletown in Transition, the Lynds write: 

Today, in the presence of such rigorous tenacity to the "old, tried 
ways" by part of the population, the range of sanctioned choices con- 
fronting Middletown youth is wider, the definition of the one "right 
way" less clear. That this is the normal situation in the process we 
call "social change" does not lessen the confusion it entails. ... If the 
child up to high-school age associates, by reason of the assignment of 
each child to a grade school on the basis of residential propinquity, 
with other children from somewhat similar subcultural backgrounds, 
this homogeneity of sorts is lost when the children pour from all 
quarters into Central High School. Here the whole range of cultural 
tolerances and intolerances grind against each other; the child of 
parents who think it "cute" and "attractive" for a daughter to enamel 
her nails, use rouge, have a crisp "permanent," and "learn to handle 
boys" sits next to the daughter of a family in which the parents are 
engaged in a quiet but determined campaign to circumvent the influ- 
ence of the movies and to keep their daughter "simple," "unaffected," 
and "healthy-minded." This widening of contacts with unevenly 
sanctioned choices, supported not by outlaw individuals but by groups, 
means under these circumstances for both parents and children un- 
certainty and tension. [14, 775] 

To get out of these conflicting situations, in some cases, young 
people in high school may try to find security in early marriages. 

It is, as noted above, a less uncommon occurrence in these 1930's 
than it was ten years ago for high school students to marry and thus 
to seek to hew a path of freedom out of the cultural conflicts, un- 
certainties, and stubborn parental restraints in which they find them- 
selves. [14, 17 5 f.] 

In other cases, the difficult economic situations delay marriages. 
As the Lynds note, during the depression in Middletown, young 


people just had to "stick around/' while "the repetitiveness of this 
familiar round of life among neighbors may become acutely dis- 
tasteful if either of man's great peacetime anodynes for routine 
marriage and work are denied him." [486] This was the pre- 
dicament of "Middletown youngsters." Marriage often had to be 
delayed because there were no jobs. 

As these observations show, a major economic event such as a 
depression which further sharpens economic differences between 
the classes may be reflected in a sharpening of the differences 
among adolescent groups. These conflicts no doubt have psycho- 
logical consequences. Turning again to Middletown, for example, 
the Lynds note that the standards for dress in the high school 
groups were set by the more well-to-do North Side girls. The 
depression meant that the poorer girls from the South Side were 
considerably less up to standard than before. These girls were 
very distressed, "some of them to the point of withdrawing from 
high-school." [445] The status of these South Side students was 
further handicapped "by the presence among their number of an 
increasing number of marginal persons who are going on into 
high school because they cannot get jobs." [452] One result of 
this stress on the South Side adolescent was that "some boys and 
girls now no longer dare brave the front door of the high school 
'with the steps crowded with richer students looking you over,' 
but go around to the side entrance." [452] 

The depression seems to have brought about particularly severe 
social problems for girls. For even if a girl did not have to assume 
the economic responsibility for the family or engage in serious 
forms of deviant behavior, she may have had to quit school at an 
early age "because of runs in her stockings, torn shoes, and worn- 
out dresses." [13, 95] Or, she might become "afraid to bring any 
friends of hers to her home" and have to evade their invitations to 
go out after school hours because she has no money. "Her girl 
friends don't understand, and she is afraid she is losing their 
friendship." [96] 

A special study of "Youth in the Depression" made by Kingsley 
Davis [4], gives a realistic picture of the way a major economic 
event can further aggravate the feelings of insecurity in a great 
number of young people. 


Boys and girls all over the country find nothing but a blank wall 
in front of them. With their parents suffering, their own futures 
clouded, the ordinary roads to success closed, they blindly seek a way 
out. In such conditions youth movements spring up. [4, 12] 

If not caught in actual youth movements of various kinds, young 
boys or girls at least spontaneously develop more or less secret or 
confidential groups, cliques or gangs, among themselves. From 
these they derive a certain satisfaction of status and security in a 
contradictory, apparently hostile, social world. 

Extraordinary changes in the behavior of adolescents are also, 
of course, brought about by war. We already have some sig- 
nificant studies indicating the impact of World War II on adoles- 
cents in the United States, a country, we should recall, that was 
comparatively little affected by the war. Not only did thousands 
of late adolescents have "maturity thrust upon them" by entrance 
into the armed services [6, 62], but in the United States alone the 
adolescent labor force from ages 14 to 18 grew from 872,314 in 
1940 to 3,000,000 in 1944, with others working part-time and dur- 
ing vacations, [15] While many quickly became "adult," many 
others suffered from this aggravated contradiction in status. [1, 7, 
33] Adolescent workers in war plants, for example, were some- 
times only "tolerated" by adult workers, by adults in the commu- 
nities, and by parents. [7, 27, 26] In addition to the greater dis- 
parity between the values of adolescents and parents created by 
the acceleration of cultural change brought about by the war, such 
conflicting situations resulted in increased parent-youth conflict, 
increased drifting away from home and grown-ups. [2, 39] In 
particular, the war intensified the problems of the younger adoles- 
cents. Although feeling "die restlessness, excitement, and anxiety 
that war brings," they found little opportunity to share in it all and 
were often held back by their parents. [38] One result of these 
conditions for young adolescent girls, who take the "next older 
group" or "those just older" as their reference group, was the great 
rise in sex delinquency. [6, 9] This was found even among girls 
"from families that are of high quality." [7, 30] Additional 
problems came to those adolescents whose homes were broken by 
the war, whose families migrated to strange communities, or 
whose parents worked away from home during wartime. [2, 26] 


Davis [5] has given a cogent sociological characterization of the 
main problems relating to "adolescence and the social structure." 
He emphasizes the point that, as a result of the conflicting norms 
relating to such matters as maturity status, profession, marriage, 
in a society of rapid social change, the problems adolescent boys 
and girls face "involve strain and inconsistency," making the 
transition more or less an ordeal, prolonging it to a greater or 
lesser degree, and in some cases creating inevitable parent-youth 
conflict. In a separate study, Davis takes up specifically "The 
Sociology of Parent-Youth Conflict" (pp. 287/.). 

Davis further indicates the specific social inconsistencies and 
contradictions of occupational placement, of the institutions and 
norms regulating sexual behavior, and of the rights and privileges 
of adolescents. Calling attention to such contradictions, he writes: 

In our society, even apart from the family, the adolescent finds an 
absence of definitely recognized, consistent patterns of authority. 
Because of the compartmentalization of the culture he is defined at 
times as an adult, at other times as a child. [5, I?/ italics ours] 

In contrast to such casual and contradictory patterns, Davis points 
out how, in a different society, the Soviet Union, adolescents are 
an organic part of an integrated social system; how, for example, 
the youth in school and in the Pioneer and Comsomol organiza- 
tions play a responsible role in harmony with their maturity level. 
On the basis of such considerations, he concludes: 

The Soviet system suggests that to make the school an integral part 
of the political and economic structure, and to give youth a produc- 
tive role, central planning of the whole economy is necessary. [5, 15] 

A study such as this forcefully brings home once more the futility 
of any study of the social psychology, or of any psychology for 
that matter, of adolescence without first placing the individual in 
his socioeconomic setting. In a later chapter we include a few 
specific illustrations of individual adolescent behavior in group 
situations which are in harmony with the general trend of society 
at large (pp. 338/.). 

The full importance of a knowledge of the setting within which 
the adolescent develops can be seen if we realize that, under certain 


conditions, even schooling may be a curse instead of a blessing for 
youths in the process of becoming grown-ups. A concrete illus- 
tration of the point is reported by Majumdar [16] in his study of 
"A Tribe in Transition/' the Ho tribe of the Ghota plateau in 
India. Among other interesting problems facing this colonial 
tribe, he reports the effects of schools introduced by the British 
government. Education in the local schools "does not help the 
Hos in the least from an economic point of view, unless the stu- 
dents can proceed to the High School at Chaibassa." [197] Even 
then the student will probably not receive a remunerative job from 
the British government. However, children of the landowners 
can return to be "the leaders in the village." The usual reaction 
of the average Hos who go to high school is to "return to their 
homes and curse their education for the rest of their lives" after 
two or three years of moving "heaven and earth to secure a 
job." [198] 

As we shall see, adolescents frequently find relief from puzzling 
inconsistent, confusing situations, by "rebelling" against the dic- 
tates of adults in their immediate environment and anchoring 
themselves in an age-mate world, or, specifically, in age-mate 
groups (pp. 251 $.). Their behavior is then regulated in an impor- 
tant way by the values or norms prevalent among the age mates 
to whom they refer themselves. Many of these norms may run 
counter to those of their parents and other adults. However, this 
picture, if not completed, leaves an erroneous impression. Un- 
doubtedly, the majority of adolescents in a particular culture 
eventually become full-fledged adults, abiding by the major norms 
of their culture, class, and so on, just as the "pleasant co-operative" 
Manus children become "grasping competitive Manus adults." 
An adolescent may defy his parents in relation to some more or 
less important norms of his class; yet later, when he has passed 
into adulthood and has incorporated norms appropriate to the 
interests of his class and the status of adults in his particular situa- 
tion, he may staunchly uphold the very same norms he once so 
violently repudiated. For example, George Apley of John Mar- 
quand's novel [17] outraged his Boston Brahmin family by falling 
in love with an Irish girl. Only after the onslaught of united 
family pressure and a trip to Europe did he give up his intentions 


of marrying her. But years later, George, now in his father's shoes, 
fought with almost equal intensity his own son's affair with a 
daughter of a nouveau riche from Worcester. 

These few examples of cultural variation could be multiplied by 
hundreds from the rather disconnected studies of ethnologists. 
The facts reported here should be enough to give us some perspec- 
tive and save us from the error of making generalizations based 
on particular cultures. All in all, a survey of this material indi- 
cates that the problems facing the adolescent vary from culture to 
culture, rendering the transition to adulthood more or less compli- 
cated, more or less conflicting, more or less prolonged. Such 
studies indicate the necessity of using comparative material from 
different cultures and times, and the necessity of first placing 
adolescent ego problems in their social settings. For significant 
variations and factors of social change necessarily reflect them- 
selves in the status problems of the adolescent, who are themselves 
in a critical and unstable stage of transition. After learning this 
from the ethnologist, we can return to our own work as psycholo- 
gists carrying with us the implications of the lesson learned. We 
should start our work by reiterating a methodological considera- 
tion appropriate in this connection. With variations in the social 
setting, the transitional period of adolescence may be more or less 
prolonged, fraught with more or less intense problems. However, 
the basic psychological principles which operate in all of these 
social settings should be the same. If we abandon the search for 
these psychological principles, we will be falling into the tragic 
blunder committed by the Fascist advocates of basic race differences. 


1. BOLL, E. S., Britain's experience with adolescents, 'Ann. 'Am. T Acad. Pol. and Soc. 

Sci., 1944, 236, 74-82. 

2. BOSSARD, J. H. S., Family backgrounds of wartime adolescents, Ann. Am. Acad. 

Pol. and Soc. Sci., 1944, 236, 33-42. 

3. BROWN, A. R., Andaman Islanders, Cambridge (England) : Univ. Press, 1922. 

4. DAVIS, K., Youth in the Depression, Chicago: Univ. Press, copyright 1935. 

5. Adolescence and the social structure, Ann. Am. Acad. Pol. and Soc. Sci., 

1944, 236, 8-16. 
6. GARDNER, G. E., Sex behavior of adolescents in wartime, r Ann. Am. 'Acad. Pol. 

and Soc. Set., 1944, 236, 60-6. 


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cents, Ann. Am. Acad. Pol. and Soc. Sci., 1944, 236, 26-32. 

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thropology, Sociology, Sex, Crime, Religion and Education, New York: 
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9. HANKINS, D., Mental hygiene problems of the adolescent period, Ann. Am. 

Acad. Pol. and Soc. Sci., 1944, 236, 128-35. 

10. JONES, H. E,, Development in Adolescence, New York: Appleton-Century, 

copyright 1943. 

11. KLINEBERG, O., Race Differences, New York: Harper, copyright 1935. 
12. Social Psychology, New York: Holt, copyright 1940. 

13. KOMAROVSKY, M., The Unemployed Man and His Family, New York: Dryden, 


14. LYND, R. S., and H. M, LYND, Middletown in Transition, New York: Harcourt, 

Brace, copyright 1937. 

15. MAGEE, E. S., Impact of the war on child labor, Ann. 'Am. Acad. Pol. and Soc. 

Sci., 1944, 236, 101-09. 

16. MAJUMDAR, D. N., A Tribe in Transition, New York: Longmans, Green, 1937. 

17. MARQUAND, J. P., The Late George Apley, Boston: Little, Brown, 1937. 

18. MCGRANAHAN, D. V., and M. JANOWITZ, Studies of German youth, /. Abnorm. 

& Soc. Psychol, 1946, 41, 3-14. 

19. MEAD, M., Prom the South Seas, Studies of Adolescence and Sex in Primitive 

Societies, New York: Morrow, copyright 1939. 

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We have seen that by the time of puberty the child develops to 
relate himself psychologically to definite groups, such as family, 
school, age mates, sex groups, church, and other social institutions. 
We have cited briefly some effects of these diverse identifications. 
But the child has yet to achieve the status of a full-fledged adult 
man or woman with all that that status implies in the way of 
grown-up functions, rights, privileges, and responsibilities. Psy- 
chologically, he has yet to be treated as adult by his social sur- 
roundings. He has yet to experience himself and behave as adult 
through the incorporation of the grown-up values of masculinity 
or femininity, norms of some work or profession (or anticipations 
thereof), and norms of social status as prescribed by the prevailing 
values of the economic and social institutions within his reach. 
Usually, the period of adolescence during which girls and boys 
reach their major physiological maturity is the period of transition 
when they face these problems. The relative ease or difficulty, the 
duration of the transition depends, as was briefly indicated in the 
last chapter, on the particular economic and social circumstances 
surrounding the boys or girls. The variations of socioeconomic 
conditions, the integrated or contradictory character of prevailing 
norms, the consistency or inconsistency of the treatment and ex- 
pectations faced, the integration or "marginality" of their own 
roles as part of the general social scheme, enter in as important 


Young boys and girls strive to satisfy newly developing desires, 
to get settled or start getting settled. In the many different ways 



in which they experience themselves as being involved, they make 
effective or futile efforts of emancipation or independence. In 
their strivings to do away with childish things, their "psychological 
weaning" 1 or drifting away from earlier dependencies is manifested 
in various ways. In the course of these strivings, there arise in- 
stabilities, insecurities, adult-youth conflicts, and crises proportional 
to the resistances and inconsistencies met in the surroundings. 
These resulting instabilities and insecurities are, of course, subject 
to variations due to individual differences. 

Our present concern is die impact of these phenomena on the 
developing ego-attitudes. For the developing ego, which is thus 
rendered less stable, less secure, wavering, and conflicting in the 
midst of transition and inconsistent situations and norms, has to be 
related anew to a constellation of more mature personal and group 
relationships. It is painful to toss around without some stable 
anchorage. Even the satisfaction of basic drives, including die 
newly developed definite sex urges, have to be justified in terms of 
one's ego-values. Because of the lack of adequate situations pro- 
vided by the established grown-up world which might make these 
status anchorings possible, the result, in many cases, is the sponta- 
neous formation of more or less secret cliques, gangs, and similar 
adolescent groups. We shall designate such groups as membership 
groups. In other cases, crushes or identifications with idolized 
persons, or identifications with groups of which the adolescent is 
not directly a member (or even with whom he is not in contact) 
may serve a similar function psychologically. These latter identi- 
fications will be designated as reference idols or reference groups. 2 
These membership groups, reference idols, and reference groups 
play an important role in determining the interests, attitudes, and 
ego links of the adolescent boy or girl. In the remainder of this 
chapter, we shall give an account of the ego development of ado- 
lescents along these lines. Our account will necessarily be sketchy. 

1 This characterization was aptly used and elaborated by L. Hollingworth. [20, 
36 ff.; 21, 882-408] 

2 The term reference group was used by Hyman (pp. 137/.). The exact sense 
in which we use it will become clear as we go along. Our use of it is not essen- 
tially different from Hyman's. 


The characterization of adolescence as the period of transition to 
adult status, and, consequently, to mature or grown-up ego-atti- 
tudes certainly needs to be qualified. For under prevailing eco- 
nomic conditions a boy may be drawn to work in a shop, plant, or 
farm even some years before the advent of puberty; a girl may be 
imposed with the serious responsibilities of keeping house or 
taking care of children. In such situations, he or she does develop 
adult ego-attitudes in these respects. Still, if the age mates of a 
child in such situations are not undergoing similar experiences, he 
or she may experience more or less serious conflicts. And, while 
performing the tasks of an adult, he or she may in other ways be 
treated as a mere child. Actual observations in several Turkish 
villages have provided many concrete illustrations of such treat- 
ment. Before they were even seven or eight, these Turkish chil- 
dren showed hardly any remnants of childish egocentric speech. 
In some respects, they behaved and spoke as prematurely grown-up 
children. The coefficient of egocentricity seemed to be reduced 
almost to zero under the mature responsibilities they were sub- 
jected to. Nevertheless, this premature development in some re- 
spects did not save them from adolescent problems after they 
reached puberty. We observed cases of various kinds of parent- 
youth conflict, problems related to marriage and sexual activities 
due to adolescent physiological development. For example, in 
some cases, forced or mutually agreed-upon elopements, with a 
great many complications from the family and other sources, en- 
sued as a consequence. These are only illustrations. Many other 
variations of adolescent problems due to differential inconsistent 
out-of-phase timings of the various developmental processes may 
be found. 

Changing body and changing self.* In observations concerned 
with the very beginning of ego development, we saw the impor- 
tance and primacy of the delineation of the baby's body as his 
from surrounding objects, the recognition of his hands, feet, face, 
as his. Up to the advent of puberty, boys and girls are certainly 
preoccupied with their bodies. As may be seen in examples se- 
lected at random from hundreds of cases, boys and girls, during 

8 This phrase, used by Zachry [49] as a chapter heading, apdy epitomizes the 
adolescent bodily changes and their psychological consequences. [31] 


adolescence, become acutely aware of their own bodies and even 
parts of it (besides the sex organs), especially in a society where 
there is a high premium on physical attractiveness. An adoles- 
cent's whole ego concern may at times be focused on the attrac- 
tiveness or, real or fancied, unattractiveness of even a part of the 
body. Prevailing norms concerning feminine and masculine at- 
tractiveness and the relative importance attached to these norms in 
the person's reference and membership groups may, of course, 
determine in significant ways the extent and intensity of ego- 
involvements focused on the body or its parts. 

Studies dealing with physiological developments and their psy- 
chological correlates at the period of adolescence are being rapidly 
accumulated. After mentioning briefly the physiological changes, 
we shall concern ourselves mainly with their impact on ego de- 
velopment. A few more or less representative accounts of these 
changes may be found in the references noted. 

The bodily changes occurring during adolescence are regulated 
to an important degree by the endocrine glands. The pituitary, 
thyroid, adrenal (cortex), and gonads play particularly important 
roles in the growth phenomena of this period. Adequate function- 
ing of all the endocrine glands, with their proper interrelatedness 
with each other, with the nervous and the cardiovascular systems, 
is apparently a necessary condition for normal growth. Under 
the regulation of the endocrine glands, an increased growth in 
height and weight generally precedes pubescence. This growth is 
accompanied by changes in body proportions toward more typi- 
cally masculine and feminine builds, changes in the size of most 
of the internal organs, appearance of the secondary sex charac- 
teristics (for example, growth of pubic hair; change of voice and 
growth of beard in boys; breast development in girls). At the 
same time there is a maturation of the reproductive organs of each 
sex, ordinarily indicated by the onset of menstruation for girls and 
the secretion of spermatozoa for boys, together with the growth 
and development of the genitalia. Such changes do not occur, of 
course, without some changes in the general functioning of the 
bodily processes, as indicated, for example, by measurements of 
basal metabolic rate. 


The psychological consequences of these gross changes and the 
more or less clear-cut differentiation of the sexes at this time are 
treated later in more detail. However, we should note here for 
future reference two of the more important facts of physical 
growth for our problem of the re-formation of the ego at adoles- 
cence. First, girls, on the average, mature physiologically a year 
or so earlier than boys. As we shall see, the psychological conse- 
quence of this fact is that girls tend to form attitudes of adult 
femininity and social maturity earlier than boys of the same age. 
We sometimes find, for example, that girls tend to drag the boys 
of their age with them into more mature interests and skills, such 
as dancing, appropriate to their more mature level of development. 

Secondly, not only does variation in time and rate of growth and 
the onset of pubescence vary from environment to environment, 
from class to class, but even within a given group, individual 
variations in development and rate of growth may be marked. 
And we shall see that marked deviation in either direction from 
group norms of development has psychological consequences for 
the adolescent boy or girl who is in such a situation. 4 

With these more striking physiological changes, one's conception 
of one's ego correspondingly changes. As Zachry [49] aptly puts 
it, "the body is symbolic of the self," [32] To start with, the very 
psychological correlates of these changes tend to be felt as extraor- 
dinary even independent of their ego relationship. [47] The ado- 
lescent's already accentuated awareness and focusing on his body 
becomes even more acute with the more pronounced, somewhat 
stylized attention of others (for example, parents and other adoles- 
cents) on his or her body, with sex desires toward and from age 
mates now present in a developed way. And with the develop- 
ment of these sex desires and changing attitudes toward one's body 
there comes an intense awareness of the developing opposite sex. 
This fact is aptly illustrated by the statements of one boy concern- 
ing his changing associations with girls. In junior high school 
this boy was only "interested" in girls. However, he writes: 

4 These bodily changes during adolescence are described in detail in [2, 3, 4, 7, 
18, 20, 22, 25, 37, 39, 47, 49]; the earlier development of girls is discussed in 
[2, 4, 7, 39, 49] ; variations of growth are shown in [1, 2, 4, 20, 49]. 


It was in high school that I began to date in the true sense of the 
word. It was now that girls were beginning to attract me in a differ- 
ent light. It was no longer their intelligence or athletic ability or 
torn-boyishness which attracted me, but it was the way they wore their 
makeup, the way they moved their hips when they walked, and the 
way they snuggled up close when we danced that I began to notice. 
It was all new, strange, scary, but terribly interesting and exciting. 
[48, 12] 

As a consequence of these changes, the adolescent cannot help 
but preoccupy himself and, especially, herself with comparisons in 
relation to the prevailing norms of body proportions and growth, 
and, more specifically, in relation to the girls or boys of his own 
group. Zachry mentions the case of a girl who, being slightly 
"larger and heavier than most of her contemporaries/' became so 
conscious of her body that she covered herself up most of the 
time "in a voluminous smock." [49, 63] Frequent letters appear 
in the interesting magazine Seventeen to this effect: 

How about showing some clothes for the short, chubby teen-ager? 
We all want to look like the rest of the crowd but you know how 
some of us look in sweaters and skirts. 


You put too much emphasis on the petite junior miss and leave 
her skyscraper cousin out in the coldl 

The adolescent boy or girl may try very hard to incorporate in 
himself or herself and to conform to the particular norms of femi- 
ninity or masculinity fashionable in the surroundings when sexual 
maturity has been reached. At first these efforts may be clumsy 
or affected. And all of these strivings tend to produce feelings of 
uncertainty about one's own self. 

In nearly all the representative works on adolescence, there are 
many concrete illustrations of the changing body and the changing 
self, and a more or less acute focusing of the whole conception of 
one's self on the body in general, or even on some part of the body. 
This may become psychologically so exaggerated as to become a 
major ego concern and may have a major influence in regulating 


the adolescent's social behavior. Even anxieties and insecurities in 
other respects may be reflected in such a concern. Peter Bios [5] 
gives the following illustration: 

At the age of thirteen or fourteen years, Betty begins to be very 
concerned with her looks. The mole on her chee\, which is some- 
what noticeable, becomes the focus of her self-consciousness. Worry 
about her appearance increases and finally motivates her to avoid 
dances or parties until the mole will have been removed by an opera- 
tion. She has read about operations which have succeeded in im- 
proving the looks of women, and has set her hopes on this surgical 
work. [5, 93, italics ours] 

To cite just a few other cases of the body or its parts becoming 
a major focus of the adolescent's ego, the following statements, 
communicated to the writers recently by a former student of a 
large Midwestern University, are relevant: 

All through my grade school years, I was the tallest girl in the class, 
and, as a matter of fact, was rather proud of it. However, the summer 
before I entered Junior High School at the age of thirteen, I grew to 
just an inch below my present five-feet-eight. I towered above every 
girl and boy in our class; and it seemed to me that I was the tallest 
girl in the world. None of my family's comforting words made it 
easier for me to wall( across the room at school. In high school, two 
girls taller than I entered the class. But they weren't in our crowd, 
so I continued to feel like a giraffe when I went out with the girls. 
I suppose the fact that several of the boys grew to six-footers helped 
dispel that shrinking feeling. But the crowning touch came in the 
spring of my junior year. The school paper published a list of 
characteristics of a composite "Ideal Girl." Lo and behold, my name 
was listed after "Ideal Height." I haven't felt too tall since, [italics 

Averill [1] mentions another case of a comparatively tall girl who 
walked stooped and with round shoulders in order to appear 
shorter. [32] Hollingworth [20] mentions several examples, in- 
cluding the absorption of some adolescents with pimpled or blem- 
ished skin. [8] One boy began to walk on tiptoes because his feet 
seemed so large [12]; another was so conscious of his changing 
voice that he refused, even under pressure from the teacher, to 
sing in school [13] ; and still another sat "with his hand over his 


mouth and chin much of the time" because he thought he needed 
to shave and his parents disagreed. [13] 

As can easily be seen in the foregoing illustrations, the problems 
raised in regard to one's self are relative matters; that is, problems 
arise in regard to one's own stage of maturity and development 
(height, weight, bodily proportions, and the like), in relation to 
one's own sex and age mates. In several studies carried out in the 
Institute of Child Welfare of the University of California, which 
has contributed some of the most significant investigations in the 
field, this result is reported time and again. For example, Nancy 
Bayley and R. Tuddenham [4] conclude: 

. . . that being different from their peers seemed to be a potential 
hazard to adequate adjustment. The poorest adjusted among the jour 
extreme groups were the early-maturing girls and the late-maturing 
boys. As these children attended a coeducational school in which 
grade placement was largely by chronological age, the two groups who 
would stand out in the schoolroom as physically most different would 
be the large, early-maturing girls and the small, late-maturing boys. 
To be a girl and large, and to be a boy and small, are both contrary 
to the ideals of the culture, and therefore it seems plausible to expect 
that some of these children, if they do not have adequate compensa- 
tions in other fields, might well find their physical difference an 
emotional problem. [4, 53, italics ours] 

Similarly, Zachry states: 

A boy whose physical development begins rather earlier than that 
of other boys in his class is apt to feel not only that his body is out- 
sized. Perhaps he comes to feel himself a misfit. [49, 51, italics ours] 

A case cited by Averill illustrates this point. Harold became 
pubescent before the boys in his "gang" of which he had been the 

. . . Harold's lengthening arms and legs, and his amazingly enlarg- 
ing hands and feet have made him decidedly awkward and clumsy. 
The other boys, not yet pubescent, are beginning to be somewhat 
shaken in their loyalties to their recent leader. [1, 31] 

Peter Bios illustrates the same general fact conversely. 

The late developing boy or the boy showing inappropriate sex de- 
velopment is handicapped in his social development on account of 


group discrimination. It has been observed that changes in physical 
status are followed by a changed attitude of the group: thus a boy 
with retarded maturation was long an outsider until a spurt of growth 
set in which subsequently led to his smooth absorption in the group. 
[5, 253, italics ours] 

The self-consciousness due to late maturation in relation to one's 
own age mates may cause the adolescent greater or lesser degrees 
of shyness or timidity in his behavior. F. W. Burks [9] reports in 
a study of the Tugwell High School Clubhouse (1936-37) 5 in 
California that the "late maturing boys were not able to utilize the 
clubhouse as a laboratory for practicing techniques for use with 
girls in quite so free an atmosphere as those who had achieved 
some proficiency in the Jackson School clubhouse." [12] In 
White's account of Joseph Kidd [46] we see a concrete example 
of the difficulties encountered by a boy who developed later than 
his classmates, in this case because he was nearly two years their 
junior. White states Joseph's predicament: 

Being in the same grade with his brother, he had come to depend 
upon him for companionship, initiative, and even defense. When 
sexual maturity carried the brother into a new circle of activities, Kidd 
felt deserted and helpless; he was faced by the new task of making 
his own way, a task for which his being more than a year younger 
than the group was at this age a serious handicap. His accustomed 
social attitudes were now revealed as wholly unsuitable. [46, 796] 

The relative standing of the development of an adolescent in 
relation to his age mates may not be a constant matter; it may 
mean different things in different situations. Zachry reports an 
illustration of this point "as described by Lawrence S. Kubie, M.D., 
at a meeting held by the Study of Adolescents." 

At the age of twelve one youngster may, for example, attain a size 
more usual to a boy of sixteen. Grouped with other twelve-year-olds 
in the classroom he may feel quite comfortable, since he is not unlike 
them in the stage of his intellectual and emotional development. But 
among the same boys on the playground he is facing a curiously 
complicated psychological challenge. [49, 50] 

6 We are indebted to Drs. H. E. Jones and M. C. Jones for securing this un- 
published report. 


In detailed investigations of various aspects of the adolescence of 
John Sanders, one of the cases studied longitudinally by the Insti- 
tute of Child Welfare of the University of California [25], we find 
clear-cut substantiation of the importance of the changing body 
and changing self in relation to one's own group. John, who. was 
not an unusual boy, whose case was not a dramatic one, and who, 
incidentally, could get along much better with his father than with 
his mother, was rated by his classmates as approximately average 
in different personal characteristics (masculine, happy, popular, 
and so on) at the age of 12.5 years. John matured physically a 
year or so later than his age mates. 

. . . during his junior-high-school years John became markedly 
shorter, lighter, and punier in relation to classmates. [25, 155 f.] 

At the age of 15, John suffered a "disheartening change of status 
in all the traits represented." [154] 

Adult observers agreed that around the age of 15 John was at a low 
point in, for example, popularity, initiative, and good-naturedness, 
and at a high point in evidences of anxiety, show-off behavior, and 
affectation. [25, 755] 

His "adolescent spurt" started at 15, a year or so later than other 
boys. With this spurt, an upward trend came in his sociability and 
status in relation to his age mates. By the age of 17.6 he ap- 
proached the average of his age mates. In his freshman year in 
college, John was reported as having "a pleasing personality." 
In analyzing John's case, Harold Jones states: 

. . . delayed maturing may lead not only to loss of status with 
others, but also to the anxiety expressed in the question, "Am I nor- 
mal?" When the biological innovations of adolescence are at last 
clearly avowed, a turning point may be reached not merely in physio- 
logical development, but also in social recognition and in feelings of 
personal security. The interpretation followed above stresses the social 
significance of adolescent changes, and implies that the psychological 
effect of these changes rests upon the degree to which an individual 
is sensitive to the norms and values of his social environment [25, 


Incorporation in the ego of norms of masculinity and femininity. 
We have seen that as the body changes into one of a mature male 
or female, the adolescent's conception of himself or herself also 
changes. The adolescent begins to conceive of himself or herself 
as man or woman. This includes the social expectations and 
values attached to the male or female body. As some of the illus- 
trations in the previous section have indicated, certain values have 
to do with desirable body proportions of one's own and of the 
opposite sex. These values, when incorporated as part of the ego, 
regulate in an important way the adolescent's experience and be- 
havior related to his own body and to his choice of "desirable" 
companions of the opposite sex. As we shall see later, these choices 
are also defined in terms of ego-attitudes related to norms of the 
"right" people for associates, in terms of class, status, and the like. 
Whereas girls, prior to adolescence, are prone to be fairly free in 
the way they handle their bodies, they now become highly con- 
scious of them, handling them in terms of such culturally pre- 
scribed norms as modesty and feminine attractiveness. So, too, 
boys handle and treat their bodies in terms of norms of masculine 
attractiveness which have now become more acutely ego-involved 
for them. Thus, a high school boy may appear casual, athletic, or 
whatever stance and pose is suitable to the particular culture and 
time. Fashions of male and female dress assume great importance 
at this time. This development has been aptly summarized for 
200 adolescent boys and girls by investigators at the University of 
California, [41] 

Psychologically also the girl feels a necessity of proving to herself 
and to the world that she is essentially feminine; the boy needs to 
demonstrate that he has those masculine qualities which require others 
to recognize him as a man. This characteristic accounts for the girls 
spending a large part of their leisure time in shopping and in personal 
adornment. This is the secret of the manicured nails, painted red to 
match vivid lips. This is why they must wave and curl their hair, 
and, having perfected the process, must pin into it ribbon bows, bits 
of lace, or flowers. This is the reason for the boy's urge to learn to 
drive a car and for his willingness to move heaven and earth to bor- 
row or own one. Along with this development, also, we are told by 
our group that a girl to be popular must be modishly pretty, keep 


herself clean and neat, be a good mixer. A boy, on the other hand, 
must be aggressive and must excel at sports. He must have the ability 
to dance and to talk easily with girls, and in addition he must show 
that he can compete readily with other boys; that he can achieve and 
master. [41, 6/.] 

It may be seen from this summary characterization that not all 
of the social values incorporated as ego-values connected with 
masculinity-femininity are directly related to the male or female 
body. There are also norms regarding the social and economic 
functions, the statuses of men and women. And there are norms 
regarding the essential nature of men and women which are more 
or less appropriate to those particular social and economic func- 
tions and statuses. No matter what the contribution of infantile 
sexuality may be in determining the male or female ego, the ego- 
values of masculinity or femininity are effectively acquired during 
adolescence. As Goodenough [17] concludes on the basis of 
standard studies in America: 

Girls, on the average, earn their most highly feminine score on the 
M-F test when they are in the eighth grade; boys make their most 
masculine score during the third year of high school. Roughly, these 
periods correspond to the usual age at the attainment of puberty. 
Perhaps the explanation for the wide divergence of the sexes in psy- 
chological traits at that time is a reflection of the adolescent's intense 
interest in all matters that have to do with the establishment of his 
status as man or woman. [17, 486 /., italics ours] 

In Tryon's study [44] of certain "factors involved in the task of 
maintaining status with one's peers," we find some substantiation 
of Goodenough's last point. Tryon studied 350 boys and girls, 
first at the age of 12 and later at the age of 15, acquiring their 
opinions of others in the group by means of a verbal-picture 
("Guess Who") test. As Tryon summarized her findings: 

During the period between ages twelve to fifteen, values for girls 
underwent some revolutionary changes; values for boys underwent 
relatively minor changes, mainly in terms of slightly shifted emphases. 

As an example, the 12-year-old girls with high prestige in the 
group were described as "neat, attractive appearance; friendly but 


rather demure and docile social manner; quiet good humor; and 
controlled behavior conforming to adult standards" [563] ; whereas 
the 15-year-old girl gained prestige "either through buoyant, rather 
aggressive good-fellowship with both boys and girls, or through 
sophisticated, glamorous qualities which attract the boys." [565] 

As we have seen, girls mature physiologically earlier than boys. 
In the group Tryon studied [43] "most of the girls had passed 
through the pubescent period at fifteen years, and probably less 
than one-half of the boys had." [79] The data illustrate the 
changing characteristics or "traits" necessary for status accompany- 
ing the girls' changing bodies, just as, as we have seen, changing 
interests come at this time. It would seem entirely possible, as 
Tryon suggests, that if the boys in this study had been at a com- 
parable level of physiological maturity, a similar shift in "desir- 
able" personal qualities would have appeared for them. Whether 
or not the shift would be as "revolutionary" as that for girls re- 
mains to be answered by a study of the question. It is even pos- 
sible that a further shift might be found in the girls' values. For, 
as Tryon notes, the girls who were rated high because of "cordial 
rather dominating good-fellowship with both boys and girls . . . 
were very successful with the boys who were just venturing into 
mixed-sex social situations; the behavior of these girls was enough 
like that of the boys that it did not alarm the boys." [79] 

The adolescent experiences himself or herself and behaves like 
a man or a woman as prescribed by these norms, whatever they 
may be in a particular culture. As Conklin formulated it: 

Perceptions of the physical self as male or female and all the possible 
meanings which may accrue to those perceptions must cause a very 
large twist toward difference in the self concepts of the two sexes. 
[12, 56, italics ours] 

Certainly, norms regarding the conceptions of man and woman, 
their functions, their status do "accrue" and do vary from culture 
to culture as determined by their socioeconomic organizations. 
Consequently, we find, in different cultures, different identifica- 
tions, behavior manifestations, different problems. As Conklin 
points out: 


If the greater introversion is perceived or believed in by a girl, that 
will have its reflex upon her self concept and all self-regarding func- 
tions. If the boy believes that he has better control than the girl, that 
will affect his attitudes as much as hers. If any or all of the possible 
emotional differences between the sexes are brought to the attention 
and perception of boys and girls, then their self concepts will be 
affected thereby. [12, 56] 

This point, which should be seriously accounted for in any an- 
alysis of personality, finds expression again in Wile's statement: 

Even the growing differentiation of male dominant aggressiveness 
and female dominant submissiveness acquires meaning and value only 
in terms of social standards which set them up as laudable patterns 
for adolescents. Their particular world defines the processes to which 
adolescents shall submit and undertakes to guide them into the essen- 
tial qualities which are deemed socially valuable. [47, 9] 

The anthropologists, in particular Margaret Mead, have given 
accounts of diverse and contrasting norms related to masculinity 
and femininity in different cultures. Such variations are not pe- 
culiarities or distant primitive cultures alone. With variations of 
socioeconomic systems, the conception of man and woman varies. 
For example, the Lynds [33] give the following characterization 
of the conception of man and woman in America: 

The worlds of the two sexes constitute something akin to separate 
subcultures. Each involves an elaborate assignment of roles to its 
members and the development of preferred personality types empha- 
sizing various ones of the more significant role attributes. . . . But 
this culture says not only that men and women do different things; 
they arc different kinds of people. Men are stronger, bolder, less pure, 
less refined, more logical, more reasonable, more given to seeing things 
in the large, but at home needing coddling and reassurance, "like 
little boys." Women are more delicate, stronger in sympathy, under- 
standing, and insight, less mechanically adept, more immersed in 
petty detail and in personalities, and given to "getting emotional over 
things." [33, 176 f.} 

In the Soviet Union, this dichotomy of personality characteristics 
of man and woman is not the case. That such is the fact does not 


have to be demonstrated by citations from the studies of psycholo- 
gists. Thousands of concrete illustrations have appeared in printed 
form about the behavior of Soviet women during the fulfillment 
of the Five Year Plans and during World War II, not only in 
the auxiliary armed services and factories, but also in combat 
situations and guerrilla warfare. 

We have mentioned these sociological characterizations of norms 
concerning man and woman because of their organic connection 
with our problem. First of all, adolescents are in a transitional 
period in terms of their status. If, as Zachry and others point 
out, they at the same time receive inconsistent treatments from 
grown-ups, they will have further difficulty in stabilizing their 
egos. Gardner [16] writes of such conflict situations: 

It might be well to note here in the interest of tolerance of the 
adolescent that as far as the expression of maturity goes, he is "con- 
demned if he does and condemned if he doesn't" show evidence of 
maturity of sexual interest and outlook, and this even by his own 
parents. That parents wish their adolescents to grow up and be 
independent and that at the same time they wish them to continue 
to be children and dependent upon them has never made the task of 
the adolescent an easy one. [16, 61] 

Now, in addition to such conflict situations, adolescents are put in 
even more puzzling circumstances by virtue of the fact that many 
of the norms relating to masculinity and femininity, even in 
highly developed Western societies, are certainly survivals of past 
centuries and periods. 

Modern technological developments and social changes, recent 
momentous events of the last decades (such as depression and war) 
have brought about changes in the social behavior of men and, 
especially, of women. But the norms concerning the "basic na- 
ture" of man and woman, their "real" function and station in 
society, still survive side by side with the necessary alterations in 
behavior forced by the impact of these changes. The discrepancy 
between certain practices imposed by social and technological 
changes and these norms, which in themselves are contradictory, 
produces conflict situations which surely have their psychological 
consequences. Pointing to this discrepancy, the Lynds state: 


But the modifications have been in the kind of behavior sanctioned 
by the culture, not in the belief that men and women are different in 
character and temperament, and not in the ways in which they are 
believed to be different. The modifications of the behavior patterns 
themselves consist in tolerated exceptions rather than in the develop- 
ment of any clear alternatives meeting with group approval. For the 
individual, the result is frequently either that he is caught in a chaos 
of conflicting patterns, none of them wholly condemned, but no one 
of them clearly approved and free from confusion; or, where the group 
sanctions are clear in demanding a certain role of man or woman, 
the individual encounters cultural requirements with no immediate 
means of meeting them. [33, 777] 

Since adolescents are themselves in a more or less critical process 
of transition, these situations certainly breed adolescent insecuri- 
ties, conflicts, rebellions, and, at times, inevitable crises. In the 
process of re-formation of the ego, we should expect to find, as, 
the California study mentioned earlier in this section indicates, 

. . . once the girl has arrived at the status in the group to which 
she has aspired, or has learned to adjust herself to a version of the 
universal feminine model which suits her own personality . . . once 
the boy feels that he is accepted as a man . . . [he and she] become 
more stable and predictable. Teachers, and parents say that they have 
"settled down." [41, 7] 

However, the problems related to the contradictions found in 
being male or female in America do not always disappear in early 
adolescence. We find ample evidence to show that such conflicts, 
although perhaps lessened for a time, may increase as the adoles- 
cent seriously faces the prospects of work and marriage. Such 
evidence is to be found in such studies as those of Kirkpatrick 
[26, 27] where he reports that attitudes toward femininity are 
highly inconsistent, both for parents and adolescents of both sexes. 

It also seems to be true that the sex differences in inconsistency tend 
to be greater in the younger generation. [26, 355] 

The fact that male students "were decidedly more inconsistent 
than female students" would seem to make the lot of both males 
and females fraught with difficulties. [27, 557] 


However, it is the female in a bourgeois society who is in most 
danger of remaining "marginal," of experiencing continued con- 
flict due to the contradictory ego-attitudes and situations in which 
she finds herself. Kitay [28] found, for example, that girls tend 
to incorporate the "prevailing views" about themselves maintained 
by men, "even when they are uncomplimentary." [405] In the 
areas of work opportunities, these problems are particularly ac- 
centuated for girls. As Seward [40] puts it: 

Having provided its boys and girls with the same educational oppor- 
tunities and vocational motivation, our society then reverses itself, 
suddenly denying the girls the very rewards it has held out to them 
throughout the whole course of their development. [40, 178] 

In studying college girls' attitudes toward their role in the post- 
war period, Seward found 

... for the group as a whole, an emphasis on equality between 
men and women in educational and vocational opportunities, working 
conditions, community activities, and social contacts. Inconsistent 
with this liberal trend was a reactionary reinforcement of the tradi- 
tional subordinate feminine role as far as wife and mother relation- 
ships were concerned. [40, 193] 

As would be predicted, those subjects who rejected the latter no- 
tions, were found to be more insecure than those who conformed, 
this apparently being "the price . . . [they] pay for their non- 
conformity." [190] Further evidence that this conflict is of social, 
not biological origin, was found in interviews in which the "at- 
titudes and experiences with respect to sexual and maternal ac- 
tivities could not be differentiated from those of the conservatives." 
[193] This finding would seem to go counter to the psycho- 
analytic theory that "all women . . . who fail to find complete 
satisfaction in the role assigned them by contemporary society" 
have a "masculinity complex." [177] For example, we would ex- 
pect that girls who handled men's jobs during the war would find 
it particularly difficult to return to the role conventionally pre- 
scribed for women. 

The major conflicts and anxieties experienced by girls who are 
themselves in a state of transition can be traced back to the incon- 
sistent conflicting values and norms in society. This fact was dis- 


cussed by Leta Hollingworth [20] 17 years ago and has been more 
recently pointed out by Seward [40]. 

The changing ego and adult-youth conflict. The recasting of 
some major ego-attitudes and the formation of new ego-attitudes 
in relation to one's body, to one's own and to the opposite sex, 
grown-ups, education, work or profession, standing in the world, 
and so on, all imply a change in the ego. This change does not 
occur overnight. The ego reaches its relative (adult) stability 
only after a period of time, if it reaches it at all. Under some 
difficult circumstances and for some persons, the striving for rela- 
tive stability is considerably prolonged. For example, for some 
old maids or bachelors frustrated during adolescence, the process 
may continue throughout a whole lifetime. 

We have already pointed out that because of the heightened 
affective and emotional state of the adolescent due to significant 
glandular changes and to the accelerated growth rate, he is also 
in a state of flux psychologically. The more or less stable ego- 
links formed up to adolescence become shaky and precarious. 
New relationships, links, and aspirations are still in a fluid state 
and subject to "mercurial" ups and downs (to use Zachry's char- 
acterization), on account of the physiological flux and external 
(social) pressures. The adolescent tosses about and suffers from 
the lack of stable anchorages until some new ones are achieved. 
This instability is especially aggravated in a changing social milieu 
and in different family situations where the adolescent faces con- 
tradictory norms and inconsistent expectations and treatments. 

The psychological consequences are feelings of inadequacy, in- 
security, and anxiety. Various degrees of crisis may ensue, in 
some cases with grave consequences for the individual. The 
intensity of the crisis is proportional to the degree of friction and 
contradiction of the external demands and individual internal fac- 
tors. The adolescent may feel all alone as he finds himself caught 
in the whirl of sex desires, striving to amount to something in 
the midst of contradictory and inconsistent relationships and val- 
ues. Several expressions of this feeling of aloneness, of being left 
out and even betrayed, were found in the diaries of Turkish ado- 
lescent boys and girls. The writing of diaries, which indicates a 
turning inward, seems to be more prevalent in a social milieu 


which does not provide many opportunities for the adolescents of 
both sexes to mix together frequently in overt activities such as 
age-mate parties, dancing and sports. That this tendency to turn 
inward is reduced in a social milieu where adolescents do have 
more of a chance to mix together is indicated, for example, by 
the fact that at the present time in the upper middle-class milieu 
in California very little diary writing is observed. We mention 
the keeping of diaries only as an illustration in passing. Before 
we give a brief account of other behavioral indications of the ado- 
lescent's striving to amount to something in his changed relation- 
ships and values, his effort to reanchor himself, we must examine 
somewhat closely the implications of adult-youth conflict for our 

Adult-youth conflict. The facts reported concerning adult- 
youth conflict may be taken as a significant index of the instabil- 
ity and, in many cases one might almost say, of the disintegration 
of the childish ego. Up to the developmental stage of puberty, 
a more or less stable set of ego-attitudes had been achieved in rela- 
tion to parents, other grown-ups, the values inculcated, school 
authorities, teachers, and age mates. With the changing body and 
changing self, with the changed expectations and treatments from 
the social surroundings including the family, even these existing 
relationships may be altered. 6 

Zachry [49] has given an interesting account of these changes 
in her chapter on "Changing Relationships with Adults." For 
example, the adolescent sees himself now as grown-up or, at 
least, as different, whereas the family at times still continues to 
look at him or to treat him as the baby child. The case of John 
Sanders [25], referred to earlier, is a good illustration of the point. 
In relation to John's mother, Jones states: 

It does not appear, however, that she could regard with objective 
tolerance the preliminary signs of John's adolescent rebellion; to her, 

6 This does not, of course, mean a denial of the special cases of significant 
changes in parent-youth relationships at an earlier age in unfortunate family situa- 
tions. In such cases, age mates in the streets, school, or in gang formations may 
exert a dominant role. Also we are not ignoring prematurely produced effects in 
those cases where economic responsibilities are imposed on boys and girls at an 
early age. 


these changing attitudes were a source of irritation and were appar- 
ently not thought of as related to her son's social maturing. [25, 20] 

The "gripes" and "peeves*' adolescents have against their parents 
because of the inconsistent way they are treated are reflected in 
the following list mentioned by a 16-year-old boy: 

Being called in the morning more than twice. Having them tell 
me what to eat. Being yelled at in the bathroom in the morning. 
Being asked questions about homework. Being "called down" about 
my school marks. Having to tell them where I've been on dates, 
where I'm going and who I'm going with. Always being nagged 
about the length of time I use the phone, the light I read in, and the 
radio programs I hear. 7 

Goodenough summarizes this source of parent-youth conflict as 

The conflict between old habits and new requirements represented 
on the part of the adolescent by his feeling that he is grown up, that 
he wants to be treated like a grown-up, while he still has habits of 
acting like a child, and on the parents' side by their recognition that 
the child is growing up, their feeling that he ought to act more like a 
grown-up, although from force of habit they continue to treat him as 
if he were still a child often makes for a good deal of friction. 
[17, 494] 

Parent-youth conflict is the more general formulation of the facts 
covered under "psychological weaning," or the tendency toward 
independence (emancipation) on the part of adolescents. As a 
result of such situations, the adolescent boy or girl makes im- 
plicit or explicit, effective or, most of the time, futile moves to- 
ward emancipation and independence. These rebellions may, in 
some cases, assume serious proportions. Running away from home 
and wanting to study in out-of-town places, are examples. Illus- 
trations of this parent-youth conflict have been reported by many 
observers. We can choose at random a few of the many concrete 
Among other cases, Averill [1] relates this one: 

7 This is one of the representative interviews collected for us by Carolyn Bcrl. 


Ruth, a sophomore in high school, is known to her classmates as a 
"goody-goody," an appellation which she greatly resents. At home, 
she indulges in the wildest temper-tantrums to get her own way from 
parents who have scant understanding of the social needs of a young 
girl. . . . Her clothes are neat, but practical rather than particularly 
becoming. To Ruth they seem ugly, just because they are so practical. 
She begs to be allowed to choose her own clothing, but is never 
permitted any voice in its selection. . . . No company is allowed on 
school nights, and no excuse is sufficient to gain for Ruth escape from 
her homework. She is never permitted to attend the school parties, 
and is resentful at the strict prohibitions which keep her from par- 
ticipating in all club and dramatic activities. At school she is accused 
of lacking school spirit, and suffers agonies in consequence. Of late, 
her tantrums have been getting worse, and her parents, though coun- 
seled to ignore them, are becoming greatly worried. Frequently she 
is quite ill for a day or two following these attacks, and insists that 
she has no interest in getting well. [1, 69] 

Zachry [49] reports a case which is interesting because of the 
indication it gives of an adolescent's awareness of the nature of 
the adult-youth conflict: 

A high-school senior whose home was pervaded by an atmosphere 
of artificial politeness, in which it was almost unthinkable to express 
resentment openly, wrote in a theme entitled "The Everburning Fire 
of Youth": 

"When the boy and girl first begin to take notice of a current 
problem they see the cause of the problem with a clearer and cleaner 
sense of view than do most of their elders, who are too burdened with 
many worldly ideas. . . . 

"It is disappointing to the younger set to find that their elders do 
not want to cooperate. Many times when a young boy or girl tries 
to give some advice he is laughed out of the picture by his elders, 
who feel that youth has no place in the world except to listen and 
learn. . . . 

"As the boy and girl grow older they are given more chance to 
have their say, but by this time the majority have either forgotten 
their ideals or else the events have become so muddled that there is 
no chance of clear youthful thinking." [49, 311] 

A case of conflict in an adolescent boy of an average New Eng- 
land family is taken from Healy [19] "out of the hundreds of 


available illustrations of such conflicts in our records." [141] Both 
the father and mother are average normal New England folks. 
There are no unusual disturbing frictions in the situation up to 
the time of adolescence. 

The issues came out so clearly because he began to rebel at their 
formulae of life by the time he was twelve years old. The stirrings of 
an unusually fine physique and a very early adolescence, together 
with a violent rejection of an earlier father identification, led him to 
phantasy hazardous adventure and to seek out young daredevils be- 
longing to the unacceptable fringe of his neighborhood with whom 
he engaged in reckless escapades and delinquencies. Undetected in 
the latter he then, to the utter astonishment of his family, began a 
series of runaway episodes. "I can't stand it, doing everything just 
the way they want me to. They are good enough to me, but I can't 
talk to them about the way I feel," this wholesome appearing lad told 
us when we saw him after he had been so perplexing his family for 
a couple of years. [19, 142 f.] 

Adult-youth conflict is such a general phenomenon in modern 
complex societies that the problem does not have to be subjected 
to a precise psychological scrutiny to tap its existence. It occa- 
sionally occupies the columns of daily papers. Sometimes, these 
cases are serious indeed; but here we will note a comparatively 
minor manifestation. For example, a pretty 15-year-old girl re- 
cently remarked to a newspaperman: 

Teachers and parents make all the plans, and we run all the 
errands. We're always on the defensive. Grownups don't trust us 
or give us any responsibilities. Take our city. We're working like 
dogs to get a youth canteen. We're the ones who'll use it, but do we 
have anything to say about it? Like heck we do. [36] 

Adult-youth conflict may be a good deal more than the mere 
individual conflicts of individual adolescents of certain families. 
It may develop into a standardized attitude among adolescents. 
Such a standardized adolescent attitude was observed by Stolz, 
M. C. Jones, and Chaff ey [41] in one of the many adolescent 
studies of the California Institute of Child Welfare. From their 
investigation of "The Junior High School Age," "based upon an 


intensive study of one hundred boys and one Hundred girls which 
has been carried on during the three-year period that they were 
enrolled in junior high school/' the authors conclude: 

Adult approval or disapproval meant almost nothing to these young 
adolescents except as it might affect the attainment of their goal. In 
fact there was a noticeable resistance, not so much to authority, as 
our rules seldom got in their way, but simply to adults as such. Those 
girls and boys who were in the throes of establishing themselves 
socially were the most antagonistic toward adults. They manifested 
this attitude chiefly by shunning adults and acting as if their presence 
were a hindrance. Six months later these same pupils were likely to 
be the ones who hung around and talked to adults as if, being quite 
grown up now, they needed to talk and associate with other grown 
persons. [41, 3] 

In another California study of social development in adoles- 
cence, Cameron [10] states: 

But through it all there appears the steadily rising pressure to 
break away from the earlier accepted domination of parents in the 
home and of teachers in the school. It is as though an overwhelming 
urge were released within many of these youngsters to assert their 
independence, to explore quite new and thrilling kinds of relationships 
with each other, and to proclaim their rights to self-expression as in- 
dividuals. In a sense the clubhouse was misnamed, for no club meet- 
ings were held in it. Nor has any desire been expressed for the 
formation of clubs. The social organization which these adolescents 
prefer is less rigid, more changeable and fluid. Formalities are for- 
gotten in their quest for more personal relationships. [10, 4] 

In a country in transition, in which the discrepancy between the 
generations is that of different social periods, adult-youth conflict 
may acquire still greater proportions. In Turkey, which has been 
going through such a stage of transition, we have collected ma- 
terial since 1937 (through diaries, interviews, and questionnaires) 
on the social psychology of adolescence with special emphasis on 
the problems of attitudes and ego formation. Among other ma- 
terial collected were the reactions of over 3,000 boys and girls in 
different parts of the country to a questionnaire especially designed 
to tap these problems. The reactions were obtained under con- 


trolled conditions. 8 We summarize here only the main results 
relating to adult-youth conflict. Two of the questions were espe- 
cially relevant to the present discussion: "Do you think grown- 
ups understand you as you are?" and "If there are persons who 
understand you as you are, who are they?" 

The principal finding was that younger boys and girls (approxi- 
mately between the ages 11 and 14) report, in general, that par- 
ents, relatives, or teachers understand them. But above this age 
and in late adolescence, in general the report is that grown-ups 
do not understand them. Many boys and girls said that only a 
few of their friends, who are their age mates, understand them 
as they are. Some reported that nobody understands them, in- 
cluding themselves. Among the introspections they volunteered 
to write down, many reveal the important issues of transition. 
We reproduce here as illustrations only two of these introspective 

The grown-ups cannot understand me, because they are people of 
the last century whereas I belong to this century. Things which do 
not please them are very pleasing to me. 

Another girl wrote: 

We do not think grown-ups understand us. As there is a great 
difference between the periods in which we have grown up they mis- 
understand us and frictions come out as a consequence. [35] 

These findings hold only for town and city adolescents attending 
school. The problems of adolescents in rural districts present dif- 
ferent characteristics since, until recent years, very few rural chil- 
dren in Turkey attended school and the great majority of them 
had to participate at an early age in economic life. These quali- 
fying remarks are made to call attention once more to the fact 
that the psychological problems (as well as other problems) as- 
sume different features in countries in transition, according to the 
tempo of change in different strata and regions of the population. 
Perhaps the various acculturation studies now going on may fur- 
nish valuable data for dealing with the psychology of these 

8 The results of these studies will be published later. 


It may be said, in general, that parent-youth conflict increases 
with the rate of social change. [15] The Lynds [33] observed 
this trend in Middletown. 

To quote a veteran worker with Middletown's children, "Our par- 
ents are realizing the increasingly sharp divergence of their world and 
that of their children today as never before." And the parents' world 
strikes back! In many cases they attempt to use the schools as a means 
of holding the two worlds together. A high-school course in sociology 
has been dropped because of parental protest over the fact that prob- 
lems of sex were discussed in class. Over the heads of Middletown 
teachers, trained according to standards wider than some of the mores 
of Middletown, hangs at all times the sword of parental conservatism 
and anxiety. This is rendered the more difficult because, in manners 
and morals as well as economics, politics, and religion, the local com- 
munity contains taxpaying parents of widely varying personal stand- 
ards. The teacher knows and the community knows that the children 
ranged in their seats are wise in matters not in the curriculum, and 
that many of these children are rebelliously clamoring for the right to 
raise questions and to be outspoken in the face of the official and 
parental restraints. As one teacher said, "I am facing a new problem 
nowadays: My pupils insist on raising questions I dare not let them 
discuss though my conscience demands that I not clamp down op 
their honest questions. The things they say continually keep me on 
pins and needles for fear some of them will go home and tell their 
parents. I have an uneasy furtive sense about it all." [33, 233] 

All of these observations indicate that new generations growing 
up in rapidly changing social surroundings resent, and at times 
rebel against, the efforts of grown-ups to shape them after their 
own images. However, the impact of these facts concerning adult- 
youth conflict must be qualified when viewed from the perspec- 
tive secured through the studies of ethnologists and sociologists. 
Adult-youth conflict reflects in a significant way the conflicts be- 
tween the established generation and the younger generation. The 
intensity of the conflict might be said to be, by and large, propor- 
tional to the degree of social change. In a society in which the 
survival norms constitute the major values of the superstructure 
(as the Lynds pointed out) and lag behind the material-techno- 
logical developments ("cultural lag"), no matter how serious the 


youthful rebellion and restlessness may be, adult-youth conflict 
will, in most cases, be an intrafamily and intracommunity affair. 
A concrete case, personally communicated, illustrates the point. 
An adolescent boy was strongly and, at times, openly critical of 
everything that his parents (both parents) did. Nevertheless, he 
shared the major class delineations, political views, and social- 
distance norms of his upper-middle class parents. 

The impact of special socioeconomic events such as depression, 
the introduction of new industrial developments in a society or 
even in a particular locality, may produce new problems in adult- 
youth relationships. For example, in her study of The Unem- 
ployed Man and His Family, carried on in 1935-36, Komarovsky 
[29] presents data amply illustrating this point. One important 
result of unemployment was to undermine "the authority of the 
father over the adolescent child even more frequently" than his 
authority over younger children or his authority as a husband. [92] 
This deterioration of authority came chiefly because money "was 
frequently used by the parents as an instrument of education and 
control." [92] In the light of our preceding discussion of the 
strivings of the adolescent to amount to something as a person in 
his own right, the meaning of such facts becomes apparent. Also 
important was the finding that intrafamily and parental conflict 
increased because "father is a changed man" since he lost his 
work. [94 ff.] Furthermore, conflict between father and adoles- 
cent children was found to be particularly intense when one of the 
children was working. [97-102] 

Such changes in the established parent-youth relationships due 
to the impact of serious socioeconomic events suggest that the 
situational determinations of parent-offspring relationships may be 
more significant at times than the toilet habits or postulated 
"Oedipus complexes" of early infancy. At least, in some cases of 
serious economic misery or serious status problems, qualitative 
changes in intrafamily relationships may be brought about which 
go beyond the limits of such wholesale formulations as those 
positing immutable childhood complexes, where, we are told, ad- 
verse social circumstances act only as agents which release nothing 
more than deep-rooted jealousies, hatreds, and loves in the rela- 
tively fixed storehouse of the unconscious, (ch. 14) 



In our sketchy account up to this point we have indicated how 
the adolescent's ego undergoes significant changes with his chang- 
ing body, his altered relationships with grown-ups and age mates; 
and how varying socioeconomic circumstances bring about cor- 
responding variations that produce feelings of insecurity and 
aloneness and different degrees and durations of instability in 
the shaky ego-attitudes. We saw how, as a consequence, strivings 
for independence and emancipation arise. These lead to the ado- 
lescent's "psychological weaning" from grown-ups, and this in 
turn produces varying degrees and kinds of adult-youth conflict. 

Thus, having lost a more or less stabilized ground of ego links, 
caught in the .whirl of new sex and other desires which meet 
various degrees of resistances from social surroundings to which 
he has to adjust himself anew, the adolescent is torn away from 
his more or less solid earlier ego links. In the throes of re-estab- 
lishing himself as a person in his own right, he may, consciously 
or unconsciously, resort to innumerable reactions in addition to his 
striving to satisfy his strengthened and specified desires. The ego 
and ego links which have become more unstable and insecure must 
be re-established, at least to some degree of stability with the new 
grown-up values whatever they may be to him. Being "in a 
vacuum," being marginal in so many diverse relationships of a 
differentiated society is painful, especially during a transition stage 
when the adolescent is so keenly aware of these ego issues in rela- 
tion to his body, his male and female friends, his parents, and so 

In studies of adolescence, hundreds of different kinds of reac- 
tions are reported which reveal the painful and critical process the 
adolescent goes through in re-establishing himself. We shall give 
some samples of these reactions and then return to our problem 
more specifically. As Hollingworth [20] points out, some adoles- 
cents demand and feel thwarted if they are refused privacy, their 
"own" room. [187 f.] As already mentioned, some adolescents, 
particularly girls, keep diaries. Hollingworth [21, 595] and 


Biihler [8, 390] both cite studies indicating that diaries are fre- 
quently the recipients of the adolescent's most secret desires, hopes, 
and dreams. In Turkey where, as we noted; diaries are more 
common than in countries where adolescents have more oppor- 
tunity for extracurricular activities providing for ever-enlarging 
group activities, one girl of 17 wrote in her diary: 

Oh, my beloved diary, I return to you! You alone understand me. 
I feel so lost and alone in this cruel world. [35] 

An adolescent boy or girl may become absorbed in daydreams or 
phantasies in which, usually, he or she is the central character. [12, 
20] Many adolescents are absorbed in the unreal world of Holly- 
wood movies, the idolizing of movie stars. If there is one Mecca 
for bourgeois youth all over the world today, it seems to be 

Sometimes, if conflict is too great, if failure to re-establish oneself 
occurs for too long or too often, abnormal behavior may result. 
Thus Ellen Hill, who in Davis and Dollard's Children of Bond- 
age [14] was described by relatives, teachers, and friends as having 
been, as a child, "an especially agreeable girl, 'sweet' in her dis- 
position," "a favorite with her instructors," "very tractable," be- 
came, during early adolescence, "impudent," "malicious," "sly," 
"very belligerent," and finally "definitely abnormal." [158 ff.] 
She talked to teachers only in monosyllables. She dreamed day 
and night of deprivations or alleviations of her situation, both 
material and social. Ellen's case is not a simple one. However, 
the authors make it clear that this crisis came as a result of an 
intense impact of economic and family difficulties which increased 
suddenly in her early adolescence and seriously threatened her 
standing with her clique. The combination of factors associated 
with adolescence, her aspirations to rise even higher in status, and 
the crushing realities of economic deprivation and disgrace in her 
family brought on these behavioral symptoms which the authors 
characterize as "status anxiety . . , which, in the lives of persons 
who have experienced rapid change in status, either upward or 
downward, may be viewed as a form of 'status shock.' " [156] 

Another example of more or less abnormal behavior is that of 
adolescents who are frequently ill, with no discoverable organic 


disorders. Several authors have mentioned the relative frequency 
of the onset of schizophrenia, manic-depressive psychoses, and 
hysteria during adolescence. [12, 20, 39, 47] Suicide, which is 
somewhat more common in complex and transitional societies, 
may be resorted to. Hollingworth [20] aptly described adolescent 
suicide when she wrote: 

The adolescent prefers death to the torture of his uncertainties and 
thwartings, and takes active steps to destroy himself. . . . The self is 
lost irretrievably. . . . [20, 799 /., italics ours] 

Among the many illustrations of adolescents' attempts to re- 
establish themselves, Hollingworth cites that of a girl who read 
the Bible and prayed in the morning and rode horses bareback all 
afternoon, much to her family's consternation. The girl, it de- 
veloped, was trying to decide between the occupations of dea- 
coness and bareback rider. [171 /.] This illustration gives us some 
clue to Conklin's interesting study [12] of 329 college students 
who were asked if they had ever experienced more than one "self 
at the same time. Twenty-six per cent could immediately recall 
having experienced two fairly different "selves" at the same time. 
"Twenty-eight per cent of the above group reported that they had 
observed the same phenomenon in others." [143] 

Zachry [49] mentions the case of a girl who threw herself into 
sports activities and determined to attain perfection because she 
felt that the female body was physically inadequate. Two adoles- 
cent sisters who had no friends among their age mates engaged 
in work and study as a substitute activity to the point of overwork- 
ing themselves. Another girl became "over-assertive," pushing 
herself to the fore in social gatherings. Still other cases are re- 
ported who became self-deprecatory, cynical, or weighed down 
with self-blame and guilt. 

In the struggle to re-establish themselves anew, adolescents may 
choose idols, or certain characteristics of several persons, and strive 
to emulate them. Sometimes the model may be a movie star, 
public figure, fictional character or teacher. One adolescent tried 
to imitate her teacher in every way, saw no faults in her, and 
allowed no one to speak ill of her. [20, 182] Crushes are also 
found between age mates of the same sex, particularly among girls. 


It is not difficult to find two adolescent girls who spend most of 
their time together, dress similarly, act very much alike, protect 
each other, and, in general, identify with each other, at least for a 
time. Cases of "puppy love" are epidemic in adolescence. As we 
noted, adolescents may, under intense stress, undertake the serious 
business of marriage at an early age as a way out of their conflicts. 
Some adolescent loves may, indeed, be both intense and lasting. 
However, many are highly temporary and frequent. Since love 
can be described as a high degree of ego-involvement with another 
person in addition to sex attraction and desires, this rapid shifting 
and changing of adolescent loves is an understandable result of 
the mercurial state of the adolescent's ego. 


The developing and increasing adolescent attitudes and interests, 
itemized in detail in so many works on the subject, gain in psy- 
chological meaning and coherence if they are studied in terms of 
the reference groups and membership groups to which the adoles- 
cent relates himself. For many of these adolescent attitudes and 
interests develop in interaction with and conformity to such 
groups. The adolescents' most intense strivings for status and 
approval take place within such groups. Here our main concern 
is, of course, with ego-attitudes. 

Adolescents progressively turn to the closer company of age 
mates in their transition from childhood to adulthood, in their 
struggle to establish themselves as persons in their own rights in 
an adverse adult-made world in which they are marginal in vary- 
ing degrees. They interact in their own adolescent circles, limited 
and influenced, of course, by their particular social setting at large. 
This gives rise to certain norms of behavior, to fashions and fads 
of dress and amusement peculiar to various adolescent groups. 
During these years of transition, adolescents achieve immediate 
status through conformity to the norms of their age-mate groups. 
For the time being these peculiar adolescent norms of experience 
and behavior become the adolescent's own values, determining his 
personal relationships and attitudes to an important degree. It is 


not a mere accident of phraseology, therefore, that Harold Jones 
and other authorities in the field refer to the ensemble of these 
adolescent standardizations as "adolescent culture." These adoles- 
cent norms may be of various durations, some may even be sea- 
sonal affairs. They may and certainly do change from society to 
society, even in different regions or districts of the same society. 
But as long as they last, they demand conformity from the adoles- 
cents within the particular reference group to which they apply. 
The adolescent derives his status, with the age mates among whom 
he moves to some extent at least, from the fulfillment of expecta- 
tions prescribed by them. In this connection, we can advance the 
hypothesis that the degree of influence of age-mate reference 
groups and membership groups varies directly with the degree of 
psychological weaning from grown-ups and the intensity of adult- 
youth conflict. 

The effect of age-mate reference groups on ego-attitudes. As we 
noted, probably proportional to the degree of psychological wean- 
ing from grown-ups and strivings for independence, adolescents 
seek in an increasing way the company of their age mates or peers. 
The influence of companions in determining the adolescents' likes- 
dislikes, interests and attitudes, increases correspondingly. His 
status or ego-values are increasingly derived from age-mate asso- 
ciations. These adolescent values change, of course, from society 
to society and vary even according to the particular socioeconomic 
standing of the immediate milieu. We designate the age-mate 
groups to which adolescent relates himself as his reference group. 

Authorities in the field of adolescence, such as Hollingworth, 
Harold Jones, Zachry, Bios, Goodenough, and others all give 
interesting hints of the increased influence of age mates during 
adolescence. Zachry [49] remarks: 

In the desire to be liked by his own group, the adolescent usually 
does his best to conform to its standards, even at considerable cost to 
himself. [49, 355] 

Consequently, while adamant to the criticisms and advice of 
parents, the adolescent may be more receptive to the advice of 
age-mate groups. This is well illustrated by Zachry's concrete 


A sixteen-year-old girl was saying she thought she could take criti- 
cism from friends which she would not accept from her family. She 
related that last year she wore bangs. Her mother was not sure she 
liked them, but the student kept the bangs because her girl friends all 
said they looked very well. The only negative criticism friends have 
given her is that she is too loud. "The family have been telling me 
for years the same thing," she explained. " 'That's enough noise from 
you,' they say. Lately I've been quiet." [49, 355] 

On the basis of such observations Zachry concisely formulates 
the regulation of the adolescent's values by his reference group: 

In the struggle to establish himself as a person in his own right, 
independent of adults, the adolescent measures his success against 
that of those whose status is similar to his. The greater success of 
some of them in one aspect or another of development seems to 
threaten to impair the solidarity of those on whom he depends. Also 
it may appear to him a direct challenge to his adequacy. Differences 
in degree of success in achieving standards that are important to peers 
(and some of those that are prized by parents and teachers as well) 
are therefore elements in their emotional relationships. Economic 
status, social conventionality, ethical standards, religious and political 
beliefs, academic success, athletic prowess, ability to win the indulgence 
of adults, or popularity with members of the other sex any one of 
these or all together as he and his peers embody them are to the 
adolescent measures of his own success in establishing himself in 
growing independence. [49, 369 f.] 

Likewise Bios [5] has given a concise summary of the impact of 
"peer-culture" in shaping the adolescent's personal values of failure 
or success: 

Group opinion serves, then, as a selective influence for desirable and 
undesirable behavior, and the approval or disapproval of peers be- 
comes progressively the most influential force in motivating adolescent 
conduct. [5, 249] 


This belongingness to the group, which becomes progressively im- 
portant for the adolescent, replaces family ties to some extent and 
thus prepares him for new conformities and identifications implicit 
in the group life of adults. [5, 250] 


Bios then goes on to indicate that the attitudes and behavior of 
the individual cannot be understood properly without reference to 
his age-mate groups: 

The intermediary phase of social development which takes place at 
adolescence can be properly evaluated only with reference to its in- 
trinsic functions and meanings. One of its most unique functions is 
to establish a group life with its own standards, values, appreciations. 
This group life, often referred to as peer culture, has a decisive impact 
upon the adolescent's development and is indeed far more influential 
at times than adult opinion or judgment. In fact adults are often 
unable to comprehend the peculiar logic of adolescent behavior that 
is perfectly reasonable to adolescents themselves. A girl of 14 ex* 
pressed herself on this matter and said that sometimes she felt that 
boys and girls of her age understand each other better than their 
parents understand them. For instance, she continued, "They'll do 
some silly thing, and the parents won't understand why it is they're 
so silly " [5, 251] 

GoodcnoughV account [17] is in harmony with these: 

Unquestionably the influence of his associates upon the way the 
adolescent thinks and acts is very great; greater, probably than at any 
previous stage of his life. For the adolescent there can be no stronger 
argument for having or doing a thing than the fact that "all the others 
are doing it." Nothing is likely to awaken so great an emotional 
disturbance or cause so much worry as the feeling that he is in some 
way different from the others. "Others" in this case, means the other 
members of his own particular group; he is not especially concerned 
about resembling those belonging to some other clan. A fashion 
started by the leaders of a group, even though it may happen to be 
uncomfortable or inconvenient, is faithfully copied by all the lesser 
members. Opinions, prejudices, beliefs, UJ(es, and dislikes are likewise 
determined by the group, and the boy or girl who differs is made to 
feel the force of group ostracism unless he has sufficient force of per* 
sonality to bring the others around to his point of view. [17, 492 /., 
italics ours] 

Such accounts of adolescent groups clarify the observations made 
earlier, such as those of John Sanders (p. 231) concerning discrep- 
ancies in physical and, consequently, in social maturity as com- 


pared with age mates and the resulting group discrimination 
against the deviant boy or girl. 

It is not difficult to compile detailed items of values concerning 
popularity and friendship, fads and fashions, and other standards 
that prevail among adolescent groups and that must be conformed 
to if an age mate uses such a group as his reference group. For 
example, Averill [1] gives a two and a half page list of fads pre- 
vailing among high school pupils in 1935. [208-211] Because of 
space considerations we cannot, unfortunately, reproduce such lists 
here. The regulation of adolescent behavior in relation to age- 
mate groups was further verified in a survey made by Life maga- 
zine, [30] The reporter prefaced his pictures of teen-age girls 
with this revealing observation: 

It [the adolescent world] is also a world of many laws. They are 
capricious laws, changing or reversing themselves almost overnight. 
But while they are in effect, the laws are immutable and the punish- 
ment for violation is ostracism, swift and terrifying practise of ancient 
peoples. Months ago colored bobby sox folded at the top were de- 
creed, not by anyone or any group, but, as usual, by a sudden mysteri- 
ous and universal acceptance of the new idea. Now no teen-ager 
dares wear anything but pure white sox without a fold. [30, 91] 

Such observations are not confined to adolescent girls. Another 
Life survey [32] of teen-age boys gives a similar picture: 

Wherever they are seen, teen-age boys have a comfortable, sloppy 
look. Their sloppiness is not haphazard but is governed by definite 
though changing sets of fashions. The current style for daily wear 
as evidenced by the boys of Des Moines consists of a loud flannel 
shirt, heavy white athletic socks, and, if possible, wavy hair. [32, 92] 

The urgent necessity of age-mate contacts for these teen-age boys is 
shown in the following comment: 

Many of Des Moines's teen-age boys have jobs after school but all 
of them feel that life would be unbearable withput at least four hours 
of "fooling around" every day. Fooling around consists of many 
things: of carrying out some club ritual, of playing rummy or a game 
of catch or teasing girls or holding a bull session under the awning 
in front of the drugstore. [32, 96] 


In their intensive study of 100 adolescent boys and 100 girls in 
California, Stolz, M. C. Jones and Chaff ey [41] drew definite con- 
clusions regarding the influence of age-mate reference groups: 

As we look back over this three-year period during which we have 
measured, questioned, watched these youngsters in the early stages of 
adolescent development, certain changes in interests, attitudes, and 
activities seem to have accompanied the physical changes and to be 
more or less typical of the group. One of the outstanding facts that 
we have noticed about these children as they grow into adolescence 
is their preoccupation with social activities. There is an overwhelming 
desire among these typical junior high school children to be with other 
children, to understand themselves in their relations to others in their 
age group. . . . There are several characteristics of this phase of social 
awareness which distinguish it from the play of younger children and 
from the social contacts of adults. One of the most potent drives 
behind this urge for social activity is derived from the youngsters' 
desire for group approval. To achieve this approval they must adapt 
themselves to the ways of the group, substituting its standards for 
those of the home and the school. [41, 2] 

It is relevant to our hypothesis to call attention to the fact that 
these boys and girls are the same adolescents for whom adult 
approval and disapproval meant almost nothing, (p. 244) The 
effect of age-mate groups to which the adolescent relates himself 
may be so strong that the adolescent may even feel apologetic 
about the interference of his parents. One of the girls studied in 
this group remarked: 

I am afraid my friends will think I have no control over my 
parents. [41, 4] 

The more mature group influences start earlier for girls than 
for boys, paralleling the conclusion reported earlier in this chapter 
concerning the changing body and changing self. The girls 
almost drag the boys to social attitudes and interests appropriate 
to the group. Stolz, Jones and Chaff ey [41] state: 

A point to be noted here is that girls begin to display this social 
awareness and interest in the opposite sex earlier than boys. Probably 
this age difference would be greater still if boys were allowed to 
pursue their own course undisturbed. But actually what seems to 


happen is this: the girls, feeling the urge to be admired by boys, start 
hunting for prospects where they are most likely to be found in the 
classroom among boys of their own age. Then begins a campaign 
by the girls to train the boys as good dancing partners and desirable 
party escorts. Under this tutelage, sometimes resented by the boys, 
sometimes preeningly accepted, boys develop the required social atti- 
tudes about a year later than the girls, many of them earlier, in all 
probability, than if they were left to their own devices. [41, 5] 

The dominance of group interests in the extracurricular activities 
of adolescents has been observed by Cameron [10] who reports 

In the fall of the second year no reference to any classroom situation 
or school subject appeared in our records of conversation or in the 
"scandal sheets." [10, 23] 

In their "self-imposed isolation" from adults, to borrow another 
characterization from Zachry, appropriate norms may arise due to 
the group interactions. They may be only short-lived. These 
norms often seem to serve the function of sanctioning certain 
activities otherwise prohibited by society at large. The following 
observation reported by Burks [9] gives a hint in this direction: 

There seems to be a hypothetical danger in the clubhouse institution 
in the children's lives a danger that was only suggested by some of 
the observations. This is the tendency for some of the group (espe- 
cially the less mature youngsters) to promulgate unacceptable patterns 
of behavior that started in the clubhouse, through association of that 
behavior with the surroundings and atmosphere of the place where 
the patterns developed. Such association might lead to a sort of 
"jelling" of anti-social behavior, which would be further fostered by 
the inertia of reputation among the clubhouse crowd. [9, 27 /.] 

Among the adolescents of families in lower income groups, in 
which the striving for some sort of social status and the attempt 
to overcome economic and sex deprivations and unfortunate 
family backgrounds are all combined together, group conformi- 
ties may end with more grim consequences. In Cressey's study of 
the closed dance hall in Chicago [13], he shows how, when dep- 
rivations, conflict with grown-ups, thwartings, and uncertainties 
become strong enough, the adolescent girl may run away to the 


"closed world" of the dance hall and anchor herself in the groups 
she finds there. Most of these girls came to the dance hall during 
adolescence. They came from broken homes and, generally, mis- 
erable conditions. Usually, there was severe conflict between the 
girl and her parents, perhaps because the latter's Old World values 
were widely divergent from those of the Americanized adolescent 
One girl remarked: 

I lived with other dance hall girls, met my fellows at the dance hall, 
got my living from the dance hall. In fact there was nothing I wanted 
that I couldn't get through it. [13, 125] 

Another said, 

I don't feel like I belong back in Wisconsin any more. But up at 
the "school" I just feel at home. ... I know how things go, I have 
friends who are always glad to see me come back, and who really are 
interested enough to spend their money on me. [13, 726] 

Cressey concluded that the "desire for recognition, for status, along 
with the desire for intimacy or response, and for new experience 
and excitement, all find some satisfactions in the closed dance 
hall." [726] But, in order to gain these satisfactions, the adolescent 
girl must become one of the group of dance hall girls. For ex- 
ample, one girl found that the talk in the rest room was disgusting 
and so she avoided it. As a result, she was razzed by the girls. 

But it didn't take long to get used to things. I gradually got to 
using their talk and now when I get back there I talk dirty just like 
the rest of them. [13, 137] 

After she becomes a member of the group, it is not difficult for the 
girl to turn to prostitution, as frequently happens. 

The approval or disapproval of the reference group in regulating 
the attitudes and interests of adolescents is demonstrated also in 
the case of youngsters of the leisure class. Here the group attitudes 
are directed towards maintaining social distinction and class lines. 
Adolescents tend to anchor themselves in groups composed, for 
the most part, of boys and girls of their own class. Edith Wharton 
[45] described such a group in the 1880's: 

Like all agreeable societies, ours was small, and the people com- 
posing it met almost every day, and always sought each other out in 


any larger company. . , . Our society was, in short, a little "set" with 
its private catch-words, observances and amusements, and its indiffer- 
ence to anything outside of its charmed circle. . . . [45, 79, italics 

As Ogden [38] has pointed out, the society sets today have more 
or less institutionalized the atmosphere in which their children are 
brought to adolescence through the private boarding school. 

The homogeneous character of the student body is conducive to the 
development of a class sense of cohesion. [38, 34] 

Naturally, this limits the choice of friends. 

She [the society girl] is cordial without discrimination to everyone 
who is accepted in her sphere of society; she is snobbish to outsiders. 
. . . She is afraid of the censure of her crowd. [38, 54, italics ours] 

When a society girl makes her debut, at eighteen, she may become 
a member of the Junior League, which, although not requiring a 
debut for membership, is generally composed of girls who have 
made debuts. The Junior League, purportedly organized for char- 
itable purposes, seems actually to serve as a meeting ground of 
friends, where the young girl carves a niche for herself and may 
stay until she is too old to belong. 

Similarly, college fraternities and sororities serve as groups of 
"distinction." As one writer [6] comments: 

The word, "sorority," connoting culture, refinement, social polish, 
has become synonymous with campus prestige. [6, 31] 

This same writer tells of personal experiences in a well-known 
college sorority in which the importance of maintaining the pres- 
tige of the sorority was so great that it was worth severe financial 
strain. An "unorganized" college man [24] tells how the attitudes 
generated in the fraternity reference group cut across group an- 
tagonisms between fraternities: 

I soon found out that the student body was separated by a wide 
and formidable gulf: the fraternity members as a whole and the 
independent or non-fraternity group. The first group stalked over 
the campus as though they were God's chosen children, and in most 
cases refused to have any association with the despised majority, of 
which I was one. [24, 30] 


Student offices were ordinarily held by fraternity men, elected by 
the amalgamated efforts of the fraternities. And when an "honor 
system" with no supervision for examinations was proposed, the 
"frat" boys united to push it through so that "the scholastic stand- 
ing of the house . . . [would be] considered honorable." [30] 

We must not ignore individual cases of strong identification seen 
in intense crushes, love, or hero worship. In such instances, ego- 
attitudes are shaped and oriented in many different ways as de- 
termined by the identification with the lover, sweetheart, or hero. 
Usually, the loved persons are individuals in the reference group 
or the heroes worshipped are persons with high social prestige, in 
the current opinion of the reference group. Even in such cases of 
intense individual identification, the norms of the reference group 
still exert a significant influence on the ego-attitudes of the indi- 
vidual. However, if the idol is a person out of the reference group, 
then the individual adolescent becomes a social misfit in his or her 
immediate adolescent surroundings. Stolz, M. C. Jones, and 
Chaff ey [41] report cases of high school girls who fell in love with 
older men outside of their own adolescent milieu with the inten- 
tion of marrying them and who became socially blind to their 
immediate age-mate surroundings. [7] Not only did these ado- 
lescent girls satisfy their sex urges but they established themselves 
psychologically at least by means of these identifications. 

The way in which these strong identifications with persons 
(living or dead) who are outside the current prestige scale of the 
immediate age-mate group may make an individual a social misfit 
in his social milieu is nicely illustrated by a case described by 
Hollingworth. [20] A 14-year-old boy 

. . . began to appear in his classes and at meals, wearing his hat. 
He steadfastly refused to remove his headgear at the request of parents 
and teachers. This idiosyncrasy caused his anxious mother several 
sleepless nights. Eventually a teacher more discerning than others 
obtained the lad's confidential account of his peculiar action. He 
would not remove his hat, because William Penn (his model for the 
moment) had refused to take his hat off in assemblies! [20, 179] 

But even such exceptional cases do not vitiate our hypothesis. For 
besides any sexual or other functions such outside heroes may 


serve, they do serve the function of establishing the adolescent 
psychologically and at least for the time being as a person in his 
or her own right. 

The effect of age-mate membership groups on ego-attitudes. In 
our account of the re-formation of the ego in adolescence, we first 
put the problem in its broad social setting. This gave us the per- 
spective necessary to realize the impact of special socioeconomic 
variations in producing variations in ego problems, making the 
process more difficult in some societies than in others, prolonging 
it more in certain societies than in others. We saw how the diffi- 
culties and complications involved in the transition from childhood 
to adulthood led to adult-youth conflict. This, in turn, led to 
intensified efforts on the part of the adolescents to achieve inde- 
pendence from adults and to establish themselves as persons in 
their own right. We saw how adolescents gravitate towards each 
other, forming age-mate groups that become of supreme impor- 
tance in their lives at least during this transition period. Whatever 
status value the adolescent genuinely experiences during this time 
of transition is derived from his standing in this reference group 
of age mates. 

The age-mate reference group, however, defines identifications 
and personal preferences only in broad outlines and only for 
standards and fads common to all who relate themselves to these 
groups. In the "self-imposed" psychological isolation of the ado- 
lescent, further differentiation spontaneously takes place. Strong 
friendships or cliques of two, three, or more adolescents emerge 
on the basis of common secrets (sexual and otherwise), common 
desires, common problems, common interests such as those based 
on family background, school activities, and the like. In such 
group formations, the members share secrets which they cannot 
and dare not share with others, especially grown-ups. Certain 
roles arise prescribing the relative standing of members to each 
other. Certain expectations are produced which prescribe mutual 
loyalties and responsibilities. Certain badges of belongingness, 
certain catchwords, and even norms (though perhaps short lived) 
arise, leading to attitudes appropriate for group members. 

Such cliques, as Jones, Zachry, and others have pointed out, are 
formed first among girls gnd then among boys. (Another fact 


that demonstrates the earlier social maturity of girls following 
their earlier physical maturation.) The formation of cliques or 
gangs made up of both sexes may follow. In some cases, the 
clique formations of two or three close friends may serve as nuclei 
around which large gangs are formed. Such cliques or gangs 
may survive for a shorter or longer period owing to the more or 
less "mercurial nature" of adolescents' relationships. These cliques 
or gangs may be more or less confidential or secret formations, 
depending on the character of the activities in which they engage 
and the degree of conflict with adults and various institutions. 
The clique or gang gains solidarity in proportion to the resistances 
it meets and withstands. So long as they last, these cliques or 
gangs demand conformity and loyalty from their members. In- 
dividuals who do not conform are ostracized or discriminated 
against. The status maintained in the clique or gang is the main 
source of ego-satisfaction. The sense of group belongingness in 
the clique or gang brings a feeling of personal stability or security 
in proportion to the degree of psychological weaning from parents 
or the intensity of parent-youth conflict. 

Many authors in the field of adolescence have given accounts of 
the importance of such clique or gang formations or have called 
attention to the way in which they determine the character of 
adolescent attitudes and identifications. Out of a host of such 
reports we shall choose only a few representative examples. 
Goodenough [17] points out the significance of the solidarity and 
group consciousness that prevail among gang members: 

Not only does the adolescent, as a rule, begin to show a new interest 
in the opposite sex, but a new element appears in his relationships 
with persons of his own sex. This is the formation of clubs or gangs. 
It is, of course, true that long before the age of adolescence children 
play together in groups and form special friendships that give these 
groups something of a lasting character. But in 'most cases the social 
groups formed by young children lac\ the solidarity and the feeling 
of group-consciousness that characterize the adolescent gang or club. 
[17, 491, italics ours] 

Wile [47] generalizes as follows concerning the importance of 
adolescent groups: 


Much of adolescent adjustment depends upon the relative degree of 
self-consciousness and group consciousness. It also rests upon the 
acceptance of oneself as part of the group and the willingness to 
identify the demands of the group as in harmony with one's own 
needs. Herein appears the potential significance of group pressures, 
seeking to bring about adolescent conformity with the mores of the 
age. Every group that invites adolescents to unite with it bids them 
live in accord with group sanctions and each group is concerned with 
its own goals and principles which may not be in the interest of 
society as a whole. Every social group molds adolescents in direct 
ratio to their participation. Adolescent groups naturally are most 
directive and may be coercive. The gang and the club, as sub-sections 
of society, exert their influence for or against the ruling principles of 
the world of grown-ups. The shifting morals of each age help to 
determine the extent of the fight of society for, and of youth against, 
specific indoctrinations. Concepts of right and wrong, good and bad, 
moral and immoral, decent and indecent, constitute a risk for all 
acceptances extending beyond the simple ideas that continually find 
favor among adolescents upon the basis of reasonable tradition. [47, 
4f., italics ours] 

Zachry [49] points to some of the factors which make gang 
standards become the adolescent's own standards: 

It is significant also that in his compliance with gang standards he 
is taking a step toward self-determination in conduct, since this group 
is made up not of those who are much larger and stronger than he 
but of those who are like him in appearance, capacities, and interests. 
Thus these standards are more nearly his own than were those which 
he acquired so early that he does not remember how this came about, 
and some of which he is now relinquishing for the time being at least. 
[49, 163 f.] 

The formation of adolescent gangs and the function they serve 
are clearly stated by Peter Bios [5] : 

In early adolescence the formation of gangs represents the begin- 
ning of a group life which has its own distinctive characteristics. 

A few pages later, Bios writes: 

It offers him in return a security in group belongingness and in 
collective responsibility at a time when he is abandoning childhood 


relationships and reorienting himself in terms of mature goals. In 
response to the pressures of peer culture, his family patterns of rela- 
tionship, identification, and feeling life are gradually modified in the 
direction of group norms. [5, 254, italics ours] 

Commenting on the resistance these norms and their conforming 
behavior encounter from grown-ups, Bios points out the difficult 
state of marginality the adolescent experiences in his efforts to 
establish himself: 

Such adult indifference or hostility towards the adolescent's treas- 
ured peer standards raises a further difficulty: if he is loyal to his 
group, he denies himself adult acceptance and approval; if he com- 
plies with adult demands, evading the possibility of asserting his 
independence, he loses the recognition of his peers. [5, 254] 

We shall be concerned again in the next chapter with the un- 
pleasant consequences of marginality or conflicting identifications. 

These representative statements are not mere armchair specula- 
tions of authorities. As we shall see from the illustrations in this 
and the next chapter, they are amply substantiated by factual 

The systematic observations of the social activities and groupings 
in a high school clubhouse during the years 1936-37 unmistakably 
show clique and gang formations. We should like to call atten- 
tion to the fact that the situation in the clubhouse was not alto- 
gether free from adult supervision. F. W, Burks [9], who sum- 
marized the clubhouse observations, expresses the formation of 
adolescent cliques or gangs in terms of "social stratification." 9 

One of the most notable manifestations of the adolescent group, 
which began during this year, and continued during the following 
years after the clubhouse was closed, was the differentiation into dis- 
tinct social strata, between which there was little real intercourse and 
each of which built up its own barriers, defenses, and feelings of 
solidarity. [9, 16] 

When once formed, these groups, which generated "a growing 
feeling of cliquishness," demanded that their members behave 

9 We should prefer to save the term "social stratification" to designate major 
class delineations in society at large in terms of the individual's role in the processes 
of production, distribution, and the like: for example, as employer or employed. 


within the bounds of the group standards and keep in step with 
them. Those who went beyond these bounds were ostracized or 
discriminated against. 

The approaches made by "novices" to be accepted by those who 
have already established themselves were observed. 

In addition to the rising stratification on the basis of prestige in the 
social hierarchy of the school, there were also other bases for dis- 
crimination and feelings of superiority. One of the most striking was 
degree of social maturity, the less mature boys feeling at a disadvan- 
tage with more experienced ones, hesitating to assert themselves, or 
even to stand up for their rights. The less mature were subject to 
disapproval for some of their activities by the "older" group; and 
frequently compensated for their feelings of inferiority by swaggering 
attempts to appear grown-up. [9, 19] 

On the basis of such observations, Harold Jones [25] points out 
the difficulties experienced by non-clique members or leftovers: 

The social stratification encountered in high school affected the girls 
much more than the boys. Yet it was the boys more than the girls 
from Jackson Junior High who were outspoken about the treatment 
which they received at the hands of the cliques. Although certain 
positions (such as student body president) were available to students 
who were not members of these exclusive groups, other offices dealing 
with the school social functions were traditionally filled by a "club" 
member. [25, 22] 

Jones gives a concise and concrete picture of such clique for- 
mations in the form of Moreno sociograms obtained from actual 
data. He titles this section "Group Structures." Here we repro- 
duce sociograms showing the interpersonal relationships of boys 
and girls approximately 15 years old. 10 It can be clearly seen from 
Figure 1 that among the girls in the high ninth grade, "the social 
structure, at this age level, consisted of a number of compact 
and somewhat separated groups or cliques." [43] This compact 

10 These sociograms are reproduced from Campbell's study [11] with the 
permission of the author. They are also reproduced by Jones [25, 44]. The 
sociograms were constructed from the results of an item on the "Guess Who" test 
asking for the subject's "best friends.'* The dark lines represent reciprocal men- 
tions of "best friends," while die broken lines represent mentions not reciprocated. 



cliquishness is not evident in the sociogram for boys at this age 
level (Figure 2). This fact shows once more the earlier social 
maturity of girls. It would be interesting to trace the interpersonal 
relationships of boys a year or so older. We should guess that 
clique formations among the boys would also increase when they 
reached a corresponding level of social maturity. 


Nonreciprocal mention 
Reciprocal mention 

FIG. 1. Best friends girls. 

Analysis of the consequences of being "left over," or of having 
no established standing in the reference group and no member- 
ship in a closely knit clique, shows in clear-cut fashion the psy- 
chological properties that arise in group membership or from 
group identification. This is revealed in the case of John Sanders, 
studied by Jones and his associates. John is the same boy referred 
to previously in our discussion of the changing body and chang- 
ing self. In comparison to his age mates, he was retarded a year 
or so in his physical development. We have already noted the 



important psychological consequences of such retardment. In 
Figure 2 John is represented by circle 78 in the upper right corner 
of the sociogram. As can be readily seen, he was in a peripheral 
social situation. He felt the unpleasant experience, the insecurity 


^~ / \ / >& 

v x^C^* > ' /*"\ \ / s *' i\?wj 



**P\ f / 

~*~ Nonreciprocal mention 
Reciprocal mention 

FIG. 2. Best friends boys. 

of his peripheral state in relation to his immediate reference group. 
At this time, he was at the high point of unpopularity among his 
age mates, in spite of the fact that he made "unsuccessful attempts 
to gain attention and to identify himself with his classmates." [57] 

John is obviously the kind of person with whom no girl would go 
out, if she thought she had prestige to maintain. Even girls who are 
fairly independent in their attitudes toward their social position would 
feel that they couldn't descend to go out with John Sanders! Perhaps 
the chief reason for this is his lack of a functional familiarity with 
social patterns; he tries hard to conform to these standards of the 
adolescent culture, but is still an outsider wistfully looking in. [25, 57] 


This statement was verified by Tryon's research [44] on the 
popularity of boys and girls 15 years old in this same social milieu, 
perhaps these very boys and girls: 

Boys, to be successful with girls, must be admired by boys. . . . 

John's "unskillfulness in activities enjoyed by other boys marked 
him as 'queer'; it made for social isolation, and his response to 
this lowered status was to develop characteristics which further 
increased his unpopularity." [159f.] This social isolation from 
the group was deeply resented by John himself. As he expressed 
it to his counselor in his senior year in high school : 

The greatest mistake I ever made was not spending more time on 
the playgrounds. I should have been made to do it. Boys don't like 
you unless you can play games. It affects your whole personality. 
[25, 103] 

John was interested in art, perhaps as a compensation for his 
lack of athletic prowess and other activities popular among the 
boys of his reference group. And he was pretty good at it. But 
among his age mates at the early years of adolescence, artistic 
accomplishment was not a criterion used in judging acceptability. 
As we saw before, after John's delayed "adolescent spurt" took 
place, his popularity also jumped up. The consequences for John's 
popularity of this "adolescent spurt" and the changing interests 
of the group in later adolescent years are concisely formulated by 

In later adolescence these deficiencies became of smaller importance, 
partly because of changing social values and partly also because of a 
process of maturing that is expressed in social structures as well as in 
organisms. The naive likemindedness characteristic of a younger 
group broadens, at a later age, into a greater variety of special inter- 
ests. Special sympathies and appreciations in this more differentiated 
society give the individual a greater range of choice a greater oppor- 
tunity to select his own appropriate environment. . . . Thus, the more 
favorable situation and prognosis for John, as he reached the end of 
senior high school, were due partly to changes in John as he labori- 
ously caught up with the group, but we must give credit also to 


changes in the group as they caught up with John, and as their values 
and standards of achievement came closer to the sober aspirations 
which John had always held important. [25, 160 f.] 

In Burks' summary [9] of the Tugwell clubhouse, more evi- 
dence of changing values within the adolescent reference group is 
given. For example, as the group became older, the clubhouse no 
longer served as the center of activities. As standards of amuse- 
ment become more sophisticated, such as attendance at night clubs 
and country clubs, the clubhouse was occupied chiefly by "young- 
sters who had not been able, because of social immaturity or lack 
of family 'status' to achieve a place in the various social groups in 
the high school. . . ." [28] Just as an individual (for example, 
John Sanders) may be a misfit in his reference group, so too 
certain cliques may be generally looked down on as "queer." In 
the clubhouse, the art group "had no prestige with the general 
crowd," because its activities did not fit into the dominant values 
current among the larger adolescent group. Whatever the diffi- 
culties involved in belonging to a low prestige group, still, as 
Burks remarks, at least a member would avoid the "thwarted 
feeling" of having no group at all. 

Group formations, such as those found in the California studies, 
are not artifacts of biased observation. Such groups and cliques 
can be found in concrete observations of everyday life. Life maga- 
zine [30] had one of its reporters make a picture survey of an 
adolescent clique composed of 12 girls from 15 to 17 years old. 
The survey reveals that all of these girls "go to the same school, 
take the same courses, know the same people and generally ex- 
hibit the passionate uniformity of a teen-age clique." [92 f.] These 
girls spent most of their time together, exchanged confidences, 
spent long hours on the telephone. Group solidarity and loyalty 
"keeps the girls firmly united against all protest" from grown-ups 
concerning their activities or current fads. 

Another Life survey [31], made in Indianapolis, revealed that 
the currently prevalent "Sub-Deb Clubs" serve the same psycho- 
logical function as does any spontaneously formed adolescent 
clique. Any group of girls may form a Sub-Deb Club which is 
free from adult supervision. At the time of the survey (1945) 
there were in Indianapolis 700 such clubs with some 6,000 members. 


Sub-Deb Clubs have meetings and initiations and even print news- 
papers, but their main purpose is to have parties. In Indianapolis they 
are enormously successful in achieving this purpose. One reason is 
that single girls might be shy about asking boys to parties but clubs 
of girls can be downright aggressive. [31, 91] 

This comment of Life's reporter is similar to those made by Stolz, 
M. C. Jones, and Chaff ey [41] in California, indicating that the 
girls, earlier in maturing, tend to "drag" the boys into social activi- 
ties. These cliques, like many gangs, have names and even pins 
which serve to strengthen the group and give an identification to 
in-group members. Some of these names are clues to the changing 
interests of these adolescent girls. For example, Swami stands for 
"Subtle Women are Most Intriguing"; Jilts means "Jump in Line 
to Smooch"; Genius, Inc. refers to the talents of its drama-loving 
members; while the meaning of Glama is the secret of the mem- 
bers alone. 

Although these Sub-Deb Clubs are not exclusively secret socie- 
ties, the members do share confidences. Goodenough [17] writes: 

The girl's club is less likely to center around any particular activity. 
Its members, however, share among themselves various "secrets," bits 
of gossip, and so on to which they often refer mysteriously in the 
presence of outsiders in the hope of arousing curiosity and envy. [17, 

It has frequently been noted that in the United States there is 
relatively greater secrecy in the clique activities among girls than 
among boys, due perhaps to the more conflicting ego-attitudes of 

Campbell's research [11] has already been mentioned in con- 
nection with Jones's discussion of group structures. Although 
Campbell specifically studied adolescent opinions of classmates of 
their own and the opposite sex, her results also have implications 
concerning the problem of clique formation among boys and girls. 
Reference to Figures 1 and 2 taken from Campbell's study show 
that "cliques of two, three or more individuals seem to be fairly 
descriptive of the girls," while the boys of this age tend to associ- 
ate in "chains" of friendship, not in cliques. We would be in- 
clined to agree with Campbell's conclusion that most of these sex 


differences are related to "the greater physiological and social 
maturity of the girls/' and that consideration of boys of an equal 
level of maturity would reveal more similar results. However, in 
line with our hypothesis that the degree of absorption in and the 
degree of solidarity of age-mate groupings varies with the degree 
of conflict, some questions posed by Campbell may be considered. 

Do women in our culture feel less security of independent status so 
that there is greater need of the ego support derived from identification 
with a group? What is the effect on personality? Are women more 
conservative in their ideas, more responsive to personal influence and 
loyalties? . . . Does this type of organization tend toward a stereo- 
typing of personality, interests, attitudes, opinions? [11, 150] 

In view of material on gang formation presented in the next 
chapter, we can safely say that the greater cliquish tendency found 
among 15-year-old girls in California in this study is not always 
in all strata of society, under all conditions, greater than for boys. 
Additional research on older adolescents comparable to the upper 
and middle class children in this study would give valuable clues 
relevant to the preceding hypothesis concerning the degree of 
absorption in, the solidarity, and the secrecy of adolescent groups. 
Like any other group at any age level, an adolescent group, once 
formed and stabilized, demands conformity and loyalty (identifi- 
cation) from individual members. The status members really 
experience is derived largely from their standing in the clique or 
gang and is proportional to the degree of their identification with 
the clique or gang. Behavior that is for them proper and im- 
proper, decent and indecent is regulated by the current group 
norms, as long as they last and as long as the individual enjoys 
group membership. From an unpublished California study, 11 we 
cite a concrete case showing the observance of an adolescent girl 
of rigid norms governing the acceptance of dates: 

With respect to the group codes connected with "going steady" she 
seems to have accepted all the necessary accompaniments "I can't go 
out with Fred on Friday." (Fred was coming to see her for a date 
she had had for some time.) "So I just told him that I couldn't go 

11 Unpublished material used through the kindness of Harold and Mary Cover 


out with him and if he comes it's just too bad!" When I suggested 
tentatively the possibility of breaking the date with her new "steady" 
she responded with immediate certainty that that just couldn't be 
done "because I'm going steady now and I just can't go out with 
anybody else." 

Although activity can proceed at a rapid pace, limits to behavior 
are prescribed by group norms. If anybody goes beyond these 
bounds he is put within the bounds again. This is keenly observed 
by Cameron [10] in his study of 200 junior high school pupils: 

To have news value, the competition of boys and girls for popularity 
with members of the opposite sex, must be expressed in exaggerated, 
daring, and exciting terms. But their verbal freedom is in general 
divorced by a wide margin from their actions; so that, for example, 
anyone who became really interested in heavy petting was ostracized 
from this group. [10, 20] 

Similarly, the reporter who made the picture survey of a high 
school clique for Life [30] includes pictures showing that a mem- 
ber of the clique runs the danger of ostracism if she is too inter- 
ested in boys, puts herself in their midst ignoring the girls, "necks" 
at movies, or has too many dates. Cameron observes further: 

Let anyone get conceited about his status, or ride too high on a 
wave of popularity, and without warning a torrent of invectives will 
be let loose. With merciless directness and intolerance the offending 
person's prestige is battered into shreds and he is left to fend for him- 
self in getting back into the group. [10, 22] 

In the next chapter we shall elaborate our account of the struc- 
tural properties arising in spontaneously formed groups or gangs. 
We shall give there concrete illustrations of the impact of these 
structural properties of groups on the identifications, loyalties, and 
attitudes of the individual members. Investigators, both in psy- 
chology and sociology, who studied the behavior of the individual 
member in adolescent gangs or groups, have furnished invaluable 
data which are ripe for a social psychological conceptualization. 
We include here only a few more examples to show the serious 
individual consequences that can result from allegiance to group 


The concrete cases studied by Thomas [42] highlight the serious 
effects such group memberships can have on the behavior of s'ome 
unfortunate youngsters. 

It frequently happens also that a girl is drawn or drifts out of her 
family and community into a bad gang, as in the case No. 78, becomes 
identified with them by assimilation, and cannot free herself. She 
may then be kept by one of the men or sold into a house. Cases No. 
79 and No. 80 are typical of the psychology of the girl in this relation. 
[42, 142] 

Augusta Jameson [23] who actually lived with a group of delin- 
quent girls without identifying herself with the authorities until 
she secured the girls' confidence, secured 29 autobiographies and 
questionnaires from 106 delinquent girls. These questionnaires 
were made through the aid of some of the girls themselves, and 
were given twice, four months apart. Correlations between the 
test and retest were "very high." Basing her findings on this 
material plus "agency, institutional, and court records; and some 
upon physical, psychiatric, and psychological examinations," Jame- 
son concludes: 

In general there appears to be a vague pattern, an outline of succes- 
sive incidents, and conditions, in these girls' lives. These various stages 
do not necessarily occur singly but often in combination with previous 
or subsequent ones. [23, 30] 

Among these conditions, Jameson lists the following which indi- 
cate the effects of age-mate groups: 

Failure of the family and the community to offer normal socially 
accepted satisfactions for their personal needs. . . . Existence in the 
community of an apparently congenial group of young people par- 
ticipating in overt sex activity. . . . Initiatory experiences of the girl 
in the sex group, frequently accompanied by fear and unpleasantness, 
but necessary as a "price of admission," to this group whose members 
appear to be having adequate satisfactions. . . . Adoption by the girl 
of the pattern of sex delinquency defined by the group. [23, 31] 

Jameson then concludes: 

It is the writer's impression that the delinquency of these girls has 
been a normal, natural process, resulting from the type of social stimuli 


to which they have been exposed. From the girls' standpoint, their 
delinquency has represented an opportunity for securing the human 
satisfactions which in more conventional social situations are secured 
in more socially approved forms of conduct [23, 31] 

Such group determinations of more or less consequential types of 
behavior are amply illustrated in the next chapter. 



Before closing our sketchy account of the psychology of the 
re-formation of the ego during adolescence, a concise statement of 
the main trend that stands out, especially in the last sections, will 
provide a useful clarification. This trend has serious implications 
that have to be accounted for in any psychology of what is usually 
designated in a loose way as "ego drives" an important domain 
in the field of motivation. As was hinted before, the appallingly 
long and disconnected lists of adolescent attitudes and interests 
will gain a coherent scheme of conceptualization if they are studied 
first in relation to the individual boy's or girl's reference groups in 
general and membership groups in particular. For the adolescent 
derives his major attitudes and interests from the reference groups 
to which he relates himself. As we have seen before, the norms of 
these reference groups become his attitudes. The major status 
problems for him arise in relation to his reference groups in general 
and to his membership groups in particular. His identifications, 
loyalties, and conformities are, in a major way, determined in 
relation to them. His main concern, for the time being at least, 
is to establish himself, to have a standing in his reference and 
membership groups, even though they may change in different 
periods. The consequences of this concern define in an important 
way many aspects of his ego problems. 

Of course, any standing in the reference group or membership 
group will not do. Individual members strive to achieve better 
standing in their group due to the factors of individual differences 
in temperament, intelligence, ability, and in many other dimen- 
sions. These individual differences may lead to varieties of con- 


tinuous efforts to better relative standing in the group, may cause 
frictions among the members, may end in discriminations, ostra- 
cisms, and such. However, all of these effects of individual differ- 
ences take place within the terms of group loyalty and conformity 
prescribed by the group norms, whatever their character and 
direction may be in the particular social and class setting in which 
the individual moves. If he displays behavior altogether incom- 
patible with the bounds of group characteristics, he is simply out; 
he becomes an outsider. In some cases, any status in the group is 
of more value to the individual than loss of the sense of belonging- 
ness, especially if he is in conflict with unfortunate family circum- 
stances, (p. 298) All of these conclusions indicate that the all 
important factors of individual differences have meaning in group 
situations as they relate to the relative standing of the individual 
member. For the experts in the field of clinical psychology or 
those who are mainly concerned with the therapeutics of indi- 
vidual cases, behavior difficulties due to individual differences may 
be the major concern. It surely is our business to keep in touch 
with the findings of these psychologists. However, for the social 
psychologist, no matter how unique and colorful these individual 
factors may be, the main concern first should be the situational 
determinations of group interactions and the psychological proper- 
ties that arise as a consequence in the individual members. The 
result of multitudes of experiments have probably made it quite 
clear by this time that the individual behaves differently in group 
situations. This fact deserves to be noted, by the social psychologist 
especially, with the same importance as any fact of individual 

If the adolescent's efforts to achieve some stability for an ego 
which has been rendered more insecure and more unstable during 
the process of transition, if his strivings to establish himself are 
studied in terms of the demands of his reference and membership 
groups, perhaps elaborately formulated lists of drives to account 
for the ego-strivings of adolescents will become superfluous. For 
example, in one of the recent accounts of adolescent drives, we 
find the following items: "Drive for Autonomy, Drive for Social 
Ties (Social Acceptance), Drive for Achievement, Drive for Rec- 
ognition, Drive for Abasement, Drive for Aggression, Drive for 


'Succorance,' Drive for Control (Dominance), Drive for Escape." 
This impressive list certainly looks like a refined elaboration of 
McDougall. But by increasing the list of drives or needs and 
thus compartmentalizing them, the functional relationships dis- 
played in behavior manifestations aimed at achieving a desired 
status are not clarified. We should think rather that they are 

What an adolescent, with the unstable and more or less transi- 
tory state of his ego links and with the more or less confused 
character of his ego aspirations, is striving to achieve, is to stabilize 
his ego-values to amount to something or to anchor his ego 
securely in relation to his reference group, whatever this may be 
to him in his particular social milieu. In order to achieve this, he 
has to and he wants to identify himself with the group or groups 
in question. He does his level best to incorporate (in his ego 
which is, we repeat, a genetic formation) the norms of the group, 
whatever they may be in his particular social setting. He has to 
and he wants to conform to them in his behavior. If conformity 
to these norms is achieved by ruthless competition and individual- 
ism, he does his level best to be competitive and individualistic to 
the limits of his capacity. If the norms of his group put a great 
premium on being co-operative, he does his best to be co-operative. 
Within the bounds of these prescribed directions, individual 
differences operate, sometimes to extremes of various kinds of 

For example, a Samoan, a Zuni, a Bathonga adolescent [34] 
will do his best, for the sake of his ego, to display individualistic 
behavior as little as possible. Perhaps an adolescent in these groups 
would never dream, for the sake of his ego, of exhibiting behavior 
displayed by the members of an exclusive fraternity or sorority 
oriented towards greater achievements of social distinction and 
individuality. In a culture in which cooking is considered a 
greater mark of distinction, a woman will be less lured by com- 
pliments directed to, say, a Greer Garson. 12 Anybody who is 
familiar with behavior manifestations in different societies can 

12 An actual observation communicated to the authors by Irving A. Hallowell 
of Northwestern University. 


give hundreds of examples of functional variations in ego-striv- 
ings. In one, self-assertiveness may be effective in achieving the de- 
sired status; in another, submission and inconspicuousness may be 
more effective in establishing one's self in his group. In a society 
in which "male and female human natures" are judged by double 
standards, strong masculine characteristics may raise one's appeal 
value as a person. In the same society, coyness and submissiveness 
may raise a woman's appeal value as a person. 

In short the developing ego, which is a genetic formation itself, 
or the re-forming ego in adolescence, has to be anchored securely 
and in a relatively high standing in relation to one's group. 
Whether this will be achieved by being assertive or submissive, by 
being individualistic or co-operative, by the attainment of this or 
that sort of personal virtues and accomplishments, will vary ac- 
cording to the demands and pressures of one's own reference group 
in general and membership group in particular. 

In these chapters, we have given a few functional variations of 
adolescent strivings to establish one's self in his group. In the next 
chapter we shall cite some more concrete illustrations. Scientific 
concepts are certainly the variables with which investigators in 
various fields deal with their data. However, if the constructs or 
concepts come in to confuse issues and to compartmentalize arti- 
ficially the functional relationships of these variables, they render 
no scientific service, to say the least. 


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46. WHITE, R. W., The personality of Joseph Kidd. I. History of an adolescent 

crisis in the development of ego-structure, Character and Personality, 1943, 
11, 183-208. 

47. WILE, I. S., The Challenge of Adolescence, New York: Greenberg, copyright 


48. WINCH, R. F., Social and Personality Characteristics of Courtship Revealed in 

College Men, thesis on file in Library, Univ. Chicago, 1942. 

49. ZACHRY, C. B., Emotion and Conduct in Adolescence, New York: Appleton- 

Century, copyright 1940. 



It has become almost a truism by now that group interaction 
produces differential results in the experience and behavior of 
individuals participating in a group situation. Before we take up 
the problem of ego-involvements and identifications in group situa- 
tions, we shall call attention to the psychological properties gener- 
ated in group situations. Whether organized or not, when two or 
more (say, five hundred individuals) interact in a situation, psy- 
chologically speaking, we have a group. The size of the interact- 
ing group will, of course, greatly aflfect the characteristics of the 
group, as, for example, its compellingness for the individual mem- 
bers. A group will function differently depending on whether it 
is spontaneous or organized, homogeneous or heterogeneous. 
However, without losing sight of special problems these and other 
variations create, we can still say that essentially the same basic 
psychological principles are at work in the many variations of 
group interaction. 1 

At the end of the 19th century and during the first decades of 
the present century, sociologists were time and again stressing the 
fact that the individual in group situations no longer experienced 
and behaved in the same way as he does when in isolation, while 
psychologists in general preoccupied themselves with a search for 
the elements of the mind (sensations) before attempting to handle 
concrete problems of everyday life. Since sociologists received 
little help from the main body of academic psychology, they 
tended to formulate their own psychological principles or to 
advance suprapsychological (supraindividual) doctrines. In the 
writings of Durkheim [16], Le Bon [24], Blondel [8], Ross [47], 
Martin [29], La Piere [23], Blumer [9], and others, we find inter- 

1 For a discussion of this point, see [56] . 



esting characterizations of collective behavior. Almost everyone 
who wrote on collective behavior stressed the general fact that the 
individual, when in a group, becomes a "different person" than 
he is in isolation and may indulge in activities not ordinarily 
expected of him. Some authors emphasize the point that the indi- 
vidual becomes a sadistic beast when in a collective situation (for 
example, Ross [47]), or releases his brakes altogether to regress 
completely to the basic instinctive (libidinal) level of psychological 
functioning (for example, Freud). Others maintained that an 
individual achieves the highest deeds of altruism while he moves 
as part and parcel of a collective movement (for example, Durk- 
heim [16]). 

Without making a special issue of the positive or negative effects 
of collective behavior, we shall note in passing that the direction 
taken by the activities of an interacting group is determined by the 
factors (motives) that are instrumental in bringing individual 
members together and the norms arising during the process of 
interaction. For example, a revolutionary group, emerging as a 
consequence of disgust felt against reactionary forces and deter- 
mination to wipe them out, will lead the individuals involved to 
achieve deeds of genuine selflessness; a lynching party, instigated 
by reactionary ideology and groups, will commit beastly acts; 
while an artist or nudist colony in the bohemia of sonje large city 
may indulge in acts of orgiastic libidinal satisfactions. 

Starting especially with the works of Walter Moede [32] and 
F. H. Allport [1], psychologists studied differential group effects 
on many psychological functions (for example, thinking, attention, 
feeling). In the excellent reviews of Murphy and Murphy [38]; 
Dashiell [14]; Murphy, Murphy, and Newcomb [39]; we find 
convenient summaries of the rapidly accumulating investigations 
concerned with the effect of group situations. In the genetic 
studies of Piaget and his students, sociometric studies started by 
Moreno, and the experiments of Lewin and his students, the struc- 
tural, as contrasted to piecemeal (elementaristic), properties of 
group situations stand out significantly. We shall review these 
studies briefly later in this chapter. 

Impressed by the fact that in actual social life group norms 
usually emerge in critical situations, Sherif [55] produced the rise 


of group norms in an experimentally introduced ambiguous and 
unstable stimulus situation, (pp. 52/.) Cantril [11], studying the 
rise of actual social movements, analyzed the basic psychological 
principles at work in collective behavior. 

If we are ever going to have a social psychology of more or less 
lasting group situations and group identifications, we must seek 
the structural properties of group interaction and formation, group 
products once they are formed, their subsequent effects on the 
behavior of individual members, and the reciprocal functional 
relationships between group and individual members. If there 
are any consistent dynamics involved in group formations and 
functioning and in the behavior of the individual member, they 
should be conceptualized on the basis of concrete observations, 
especially everyday life situations. This should show us the gen- 
eral functional variables of the group-individual relationship in 
any group situation whatever the particular circumstances may be 
that give rise to group formations and whatever the particular type 
of behavior thus determined or altered. Once this is done, it will 
be comparatively easy to study the specific conditions and factors 
that enter into the functioning of a particular group and the 
specific goals to which it is directed. 

In this chapter we shall confine ourselves to comparatively small 
groups and to the rise of norms, ego-involvements, and subsequent 
identifications in these groups. We shall be concerned chiefly with 
spontaneously formed small groups (gangs). For in such spon- 
taneously formed small groups, differential group behavior, group 
products, and identifications are comparatively easily traced. Be- 
cause of their relatively simple nature, adolescent cliques and gangs 
are in certain respects excellent prototypes of group interaction 
and formation. We can see in them the emergence of group 
products, the determination of the behavior of the individual 
member by group identifications, the generation of group loyalties 
and pressures. We should, however, make it explicit that gangs 
are not only adolescent phenomena. Drifting away from the con- 
ventional family setting may occur before adolescence, even in 
early childhood, depending on the degree to which the child iden- 
tifies himself with his family and other conventional groups or 


institutions. This identification, in turn, is regulated by complex 
social and economic factors. However, as we have seen in chapter 
7, a certain degree of ego development must take place before a 
child can relate himself to any group. The rate of this devel- 
opment is undoubtedly affected by many of the same factors 
influencing the degree to which he later identifies himself with 
conventional groups. 

Already sociologists have amassed many impressive investigations 
of cliques, gangs, isolated groups, and collective phenomena. 
These are full of direct implications for the psychological con- 
ceptualization of group formation and of those supralocal (supra- 
individual) properties of group structures which determine the 
differential behavior of individual members. In their psychologi- 
cal conceptualizations of their own data, sociologists generally have 
coined their own "psychologies" consistent with the ideas of 
"human nature" to which their particular ideologies lead them. 
On the other hand, psychologists, just beginning to face group 
problems as psychological problems, tend to ignore the vast wealth 
of sociological data which lend themselves so easily to psychological 
formulations. It seems that many sociologists, following the erro- 
neous traditional dichotomy between the individual and society, 
have taken psychology as the apologist of the individual and of 
"individualism" and have neglected to follow closely the concepts 
psychologists work with. At the same time, it is surprising that 
most psychologists investigating group problems have not often 
bothered to go out of their little worlds and examine the wealth of 
material already collected by sociologists. 

The main theme of this chapter can be briefly summarized here 
on the basis of the sociological and psychological data, now con- 
verging in their implications. The ego of the growing boy or girl 
develops as a consequence of various contacts with the surrounding 
physical and socioeconomic milieu. This process defines one's 
identity as a person, anchors him in a constellation of interpersonal 
relationships in many capacities. His sense of status and its sta- 
bility is derived from this constellation of relationships interwoven 
during the course of genetic development. He carries on his daily 
activities (for example, his strivings to make a living and still a 
better living) as prescribed by these socially incorporated ego- 


values. If these ego-values serve the function of regulating his 
activities in such away that his basic needs are more or less satisfied 
and if he feels secure in the constellation of human relationships 
thus organized, he leads his life as a respectable normal member of 
the group (subject, of course, to variations due to individual differ- 
ences). But, if these values or norms do not adequately satisfy his 
basic needs, or if they produce conflict due to the lack of integra- 
tion between the values of different groups a person identifies him- 
self with, then he may strive restlessly to anchor himself anew, or 
he may indulge in daydreams, various sorts of abnormal phan- 
tasies, or other "substitutive activities" with their possible neurotic 
consequences. Individuals who are experiencing basic depriva- 
tions, who are tossing around without a secure social anchoring, 
owing to the contradictory nature of organized social relationships, 
may gravitate towards each other to form, spontaneously, more or 
less well-organized groups. And they may then derive their satis- 
factions from the activities and identifications such informally 
organized groups make possible. 2 

Most crucial and realistic observations on group psychology are 
still made, not by psychologists, but by observers who either per- 
sonally share collective experiences or take a part in the process of 
group transformation. For, unlike psychologists, these observers 
cannot afford to make serious mistakes. Concrete illustrations of 
this point will be seen later in relation to Makarenko's work in 
the Gorki Colony during the trying days of the early 1920's when 
civil war was raging in the Soviet Union. In the more or less iso- 
lated situations of combat in war where men share misery and 
dangers in the most elemental and consequential way, there de- 
velop spontaneously among them groups peculiar to them alone 
in which other men of their own army may not be allowed to 

2 Although we shall not consider them here, groups which arise because they 
promise happiness to their members through escapist solutions are good illustra- 
tions. For examples see [7, 11, 17, 57]. On the other hand, the experience and 
observation of misery, class contradictions, social prejudices of all sorts which are 
derivatives of these contradictions lead many people in all countries to accept more 
objectively valid explanations concerning the causes of this misery and contradic- 
tion. Subsequently, these individuals may take a realistic firm stand in the face 
of many hardships. 


participate. It is just as if the process were regulated by an estab- 
lished norm. 

Among his other keen observations of men collectively under 
stress and reported in words or incisive lines and shadings, Bill 
Mauldin [31], who shared it all, caught the major properties of 
such groups: 

While men in combat outfits kid each other around, they have a 
sort of family complex about it. No outsiders may join. Anybody 
who does a dangerous job in this war has his own particular kind of 
kidding among his own friends, and sometimes it doesn't even sound 
like kidding. Bomber crews and paratroopers and infantry squads 
are about the same in that respect. If a stranger comes up to a group 
of them when they are bulling, they ignore him. If he takes it upon 
himself to laugh at something funny they have said, they freeze their 
expressions, turn slowly around, stare at him until his stature has 
shrunk to about four inches and he slinks away, and then they go 
back to their kidding again. 

It's like a group of prosperous businessmen telling a risque joke and 
then glaring at the waiter who joins in the guffaws. Combat people 
are an exclusive set, and if they want to be that way, it is their privi- 
lege. They certainly earn it. New men in outfits have to work their 
way in slowly, but they are eventually accepted. Sometimes they 
have to change some of their ways of living. An introvert or a 
recluse is not going to last long in combat without friends, so he 
learns to come out of his shell. Once he has "arrived" he is pretty 
proud of his clique, and he in turn is chilly toward outsiders. 

That's why, during some of the worst periods in Italy, many guys 
who had a chance to hang around a town for a few days after being 
discharged from a hospital where they had recovered from wounds, 
with nobody the wiser, didn't take advantage of it. They weren't 
eager to get back up and get in the war, by any means, and many of 
them did hang around a few days. But those who did hang around 
didn't feel exactly right about it, and those who went right back did 
it for a very simple reasonnot because they felt that their presence 
was going to make a lot of difference in the big scheme of the war, 
and not to uphold the traditions of the umpteenth regiment. A lot 
of guys don't know the name of their regimental commander. They 
went back because they knew their companies were very shorthanded, 
and they were sure that if somebody else in their own squad or section 


were in their own shoes, and the situation were reversed, those friends 
would come back to make the load lighter on them. [31, 58 ff., all but 
the last italics ours] 

Further examples of ego-involved group loyalties arising during 
critical times are reported in the next chapter. 

Judgments, perceptions, and attitudes are referential affairs, con- 
sciously or unconsciously related to a framework. If this frame 
becomes unstable and conflicting, judgments and attitudes related 
to this frame are consequently apt to lose their stability and inte- 
gration. The same is true for the genetically formed ego. If we 
lose our faith in the persons or groups with which we identify our- 
selves, or if we are estranged from them for various reasons, our 
feeling of identity becomes unstable and shaky. Under the cir- 
cumstances, we are apt to strive to anchor ourselves more firmly 
in a new constellation of human relationships. 3 

The case of the "marginal man," with ambivalent or contradic- 
tory group loyalties, or with experiences of successive acceptance 
and rejection by the groups he is related to, illustrates our point 
clearly. Such a man usually develops conflicts due to the contra- 
dictory components of his loyalties, or to frustrations arising from 
his alternating acceptance or rejection by the groups he is related 
to in the social order in which these contradictions prevail. In the 
works of Park and Miller [43], Park [44],-Stonequist [58], Child 

8 The cases of more or less isolated groups (for example, in prisons, concentra- 
tion camps, or involuntary isolation of some sort), their formation, and the prod- 
ucts emerging in them may be studied to exemplify our theme. For example, in 
Clemmer's study [13] of life in a large prison, he notes that, because of uncer- 
tainty and confusion about the life they have left and because of the impersonal 
prison routine, new inmates almost invariably experience a "loss of identity" at 
first. Some men never recover from this chaotic state. However, the majority 
come to accept the prison code and even anchor themselves in informal groupings 
to a greater or lesser degree. They then identify themselves with the prison group, 
and their behavior is regulated by the code. Other members remain anchored in 
persons or groups outside of prison and manage to live with a minimum of inner 
conflict, because their behavior is judged by themselves in terms of a reference 
group outside. However, some men "have a double or triple allegiance,*' identify- 
ing themselves with the prison group in some respects, the outside world in others. 
It is these prisoners, the "betwixt and between/' who suffer inner conflict, who 
become "stool pigeons," and whose behavior seems "confused and illogical" 
These "stool pigeons" are looked down upon scornfully by both inmates and 


[12], and others we find interesting illustrations of such conflict 
situations. Recently Hughes [20] has given a sociological account 
of these "dilemmas and contradictions of status," which at times 
cause frustrating experiences for the individuals caught in them. 

Group identifications. Studies of adolescent conflicts, crises, 
identifications, and cliques give us important psychological clues 
by means of which we can more adequately examine the intricate 
problems of ego-involvements and identifications in group situa- 
tions. We have seen how the adolescent boy or girl tosses in the 
flux of "unsettledness" and personal confusion with the rise of the 
sexual urge and the development of other youthful aspirations and 
longings, with now more intensely felt deprivations, emerging 
interests and values. And we will recall that most of these new 
adolescent yearnings are not sympathetically shared, in general, 
by the older generation and are usually not satisfied in what the 
adolescent regards as a rigid adult world filled with restrictions 
and prohibitions. The consequences are, in many cases, parent- 
youth (adult-youth) conflict, leading, for example, to: drifting 
away ("psychological weaning") from parents and other grown- 
ups, ending in actual running away from the oppressing family 
situation in some cases; crises of various kinds in which the ado- 
lescent feels that nobody understands him, he is all alone in an 
unsympathetic sadistic world; or expressed or unexpressed feelings 
or acts of rebellion against different types of authority. 

The kind and the intensity of parent-youth conflict, of psycho- 
logical weaning, of crisis and rebellion, and of actual behavior that 
may ensue will vary according to the class structure of the society, 
the relative stability or instability of the times, the rate of techno- 
logical changes, and the deprivations the particular adolescent is 
subject to because of the particular circumstances of his family, 
class, and so on. A sociological analysis of certain of these im- 
portant variables determining the amount and degree of parent- 
youth conflict in a particular culture (as contrasted to universal 
factors, for example, differences in age between parents and chil- 
dren) has been made by Kingsley Davis [15], Pointing out that 
such conflict is minimal or inconsequential in some cultures, Davis 
emphasizes that, although the physiological changes at adolescence 
are highly important factors, they are universal and, consequently, 


cannot in themselves account for variations in the degree of con- 
flict from one culture to another. The four "complex variables" 
Davis analyzes are: "(1) the rate of social change; (2) the extent 
of complexity in the social structure; (3) the degree of integration 
in the culture; and (4) the velocity of movement (e.g., vertical 
mobility) within the structure and its relation to the cultural 
values." [535] Viewing contemporary American culture in terms 
of these variables, Davis comments that owing to the rapidity of 
sociological change, not only do the norms of adults and youth 
differ in content, but the complexity of our society with its lack 
of integration leads to conflicting standards, norms, and goals 
"within the generations" (including, of course, those norms relat- 
ing to sex). 

The feeling of insecurity, of being tossed around, is painful, as 
any deprivation is painful. It has its limits of endurance. As a 
result there is a tendency to anchor one's self some place where an 
actual or fancied feeling of security is provided. This anchoring 
may be achieved through various kinds of identifications with 
persons who have affective value or who stand high in one's eyes; 
or it may be attained through membership in some clique, gang, 
club, sect, select neighborhood, or institution. In "casually pat- 
terned" societies of a high degree of development and differentia- 
tion, to borrow a concept used by Robert Lynd in his provocative 
book, Knowledge for What? The Place of Social Science in Ameri- 
can Culture [28], efforts to get one's self anchored may be directed 
to contradictory and escapist orientations. These contradictory 
identifications and affiliations may develop into absurd proportions. 
Instead of giving a consistent feeling of security, they may only 
produce further conflicts. 4 

Youngsters who are striving, sometimes desperately, to get out 
of a psychological crisis situation, to find for themselves an atmos- 
phere of experience and action sympathetic to and in harmony 
with their yearnings and aspirations, or to satisfy keenly felt dep- 
rivations, spontaneously form adolescent groups (cliques, gangs) 
with kindred souls. The structural properties of such groups 

4 For some accentuated illustrations of this point, see the references on the 
"marginal man" and ch. 11. 


such as degree of solidarity, integration, degree of exclusiveness 
of loyalty demanded will vary according to the extent to which 
each individual member is driven to cast his own personal lot 
with a group as determined by the locality in which he lives, the 
degree of mobility possible, economic class, and ethnic affiliations. 
For economic class and ethnic affiliations are major determinants 
of significant identifications and anchorages or of the lack of them, 
especially in bourgeois societies where rigid prejudices prevail (as 
seen in "social distance" studies). 

The goals towards which clique or gang activities will be di- 
rected vary according to the character of the major deprivations, 
the character of the feeling of not belonging, and the aspirations 
of the individuals in the gang or clique. A certain gang of the 
type most frequently studied by sociologists may engage particu- 
larly in pilfering, "jack-rolling" or stealing. Another gang, whose 
members are economically above the subsistence level, may special- 
ize in orgiastic or other sexual activities, a third gang or clique 
may be noted for its acts of "distinction" in assuring for its mem- 
bers an envied status in their social world. School gangs or cliques 
of the latter kind have not attracted so much attention, perhaps 
because they do not stand out as spectacular. As we saw in the last 
chapter, college fraternities and sororities almost serve as a proto- 
type of groups engaging in such activities. 


Studies of the spontaneous formations of gangs and the subse- 
quent rise of appropriate norms (codes) and roles which define the 
relative status of individual members, give us excellent informa- 
tion concerning the character of group structures, identifications, 
and loyalties, and their determination of the behavior of the mem- 
bers. The material on gangs is especially helpful in formulating 
psychological generalizations, since sociologists have published 
elaborate studies on the formation and functioning of gangs, in- 
cluding case histories of individual members. The group proper- 
ties, individual identifications, and behavior in gangs found here 
give us, as we have said, the essential prototype of any group or 
group behavior. 


In these gang studies, a cardinal fact concerning the behavior 
of individual members in any collective situation stands out in high 
relief: the fact that, once an individual identifies himself with a 
group and its collective actions, his behavior is, in a major way, 
determined by the direction of the group action, whatever this 
direction may be, good or bad, constructive or destructive. Once 
an individual identifies himself with the group, whether this group 
is a clique, gang, club, fraternity, sect, or political organization, his 
ego becomes so involved that he is apt to feel a loss of personal 
status if he does not keep pace with group activity. His social 
status as he feels it consists largely of a constellation of these group 
identifications, whatever the specific character and level in the 
particular scheme of social stratification may be. Deviations and 
injuries inflicted on his identifications, either by himself or by 
others, are usually experienced as a personal loss of prestige. Thus 
a gang member acquires his real social status in his gang, even 
though he may have learned by heart all the prevailing norms of 
society at large. 

This fact is nicely pointed out by Zorbaugh: [63] 

The church, the school, and the occupational group, then, as well 
as the newspaper, play no intimate role in the local life of the Near 
North Side [of Chicago], . . . The Gold Coast has its clubs; intimate 
groups gather in "village" studios; the foreign areas have numerous 
lodges and mutual benefit societies; the slum has its "gangs." Even 
in the rooming-house area, where group life is at a minimum, occa- 
sional cults and sects spring up, and every pool hall and cigar store 
has about it a nebulous group. And these groups may play an enor- 
mously important role in the lives of their members. [63, 192] 

In Thrasher's work we have an account of hundreds of gangs 
studied in the early 1920's. Thrasher's book is a mine of rich data 
for the social psychologist. It is full of material which shows the 
process of group formation under well-defined economic and 
social situations, the structural properties of groups, and the rise 
of appropriate norms (codes) that regulate the behavior of indi- 
vidual members to such an important degree. 

Before we analyze the structural properties of "gangs," it is 
important to note that, no matter what kind of "deviant" activities 


gang boys engage in, they are generally wholesome and normal 
human beings, subject only to the usual individual differences 
found in any school, Sunday school, or club population. Thrasher 
[60] states that 

Aside from their usual lack of adjustment to the formal demands 
of conventional social codes, however, gang boys ... are not morbid 
or psychopathic as is sometimes the case with boys who are subject 
to the repressions and punishments of a more artificial situation. [60, 

Other investigators substantiate the fact: we see it in Clifford 
Shaw's Brothers in Crime [52] ; 5 in Whyte's Street Corner Society 
[62]; and Zorbaugh's The Gold Coast and the Slum [63]. Gangs 
are formed spontaneously to serve the function of a social institu- 
tion, to secure a status and a social identity for youngsters not 
genuinely provided with such an identity by society at large. And 
perhaps even more important, gangs regulate and encourage ac- 
tivities which satisfy basic human needs, because families and 
communities have failed to provide many children with the means 
of relieving major deprivations. 

Gangs represent the spontaneous effort of boys to create a society for 
themselves where none adequate to their needs exists. [60, 37] 

It offers a substitute for what society fails to give; and it provides a 
relief from suppression and distasteful behavior. [60, 38] 

This comes out again and again in representative studies. For 
example, we see in Zorbaugh's conclusion [63] how restrictions 
imposed by privileged classes to maintain class lines encourage 
gang formation. 

The child cannot live and conform in both social worlds at the 
same time. The family and colony are defined for him in his Ameri- 
can contacts by such epithets as "dago," "wop," "foreign," and the like. 
He feels the loss of status attached to his connection with the colony. 
In his effort to achieve status in the American city he loses his rapport 
with family and community. Conflicts arise between the child and 
his family. Yet by virtue of his race, his manner of speech, the neces- 

5 The clinical summaries contained in this book and made by the psychiatrist, 
Harold Hanson [ch. 13] are particularly to the point. 


sity of living in the colony, and these same definitive epithets, he is 
excluded from status and intimate participation in American life, 
Out of this situation, as we have already seen, arises the gang, afford- 
ing the boy a social world in which he finds his only status and rec- 
ognition. But it is by conforming to delinquent patterns that he 
achieves status in the gang. And every boy in Little Hell is a mem- 
ber of a gang. [63, 176 f. f italics ours] 

Thrasher [60] begins his study by giving socioeconomic account 
of the areas particularly conducive to the formation of gangs 
(gangland). He writes that 

The gang is almost invariably characteristic of regions that are 
interstitial to the more settled, more stable, and better organized por- 
tions of the city. The central tripartite empire of the gang occupies 
what is often called "the poverty belt" -a region characterized by 
deteriorating neighborhoods, shifting populations, and the mobility 
and disorganization of the slum. [60, 22] 

It is against this situational background that the activities of such 
gangs become significant. The specific activities of different gangs 
may vary, as Thrasher points out. The situational determinants in 
each case must be specifically studied. 6 

Thrasher, like some other sociologists in the field, tends to 
consider gangs as cases of disorganization. This seems to us a 
moralistic view of the subject. As Whyte recently noted, activities 
of slum areas and those of gangs have an internal organization of 
their own while they last. 7 In Whyte's words: 

It is customary for the sociologist to study the slum district in terms 
of "social disorganization" and to neglect to see that an area such as 
Cornerville has a complex and well-established organization of its 
own. I was interested in that organization. I found that in every 
group there was a hierarchical structure of social relations binding the 

6 The almost universal formation of gangs among young boys in certain areas 
of the population formerly has led certain authors to posit such conceptions as a 
"gang instinct" (see, for example, J. Puffer [46]). But sociologists like Thrasher 
and Shaw who are intimately acquainted with gangs have dismissed such untenable 
psychological positions in favor of situational (environmental) explanations. 

7 We say "while they last" because the impact of the established society, which 
contributed to the gang's formation, at the same time impinges upon it in the 
direction of its dissolution. We shall comment on this point later. 


individuals to one another and that the groups were also related 
hierarchically to one another. Where the group was formally organ- 
ized into a political club, this was immediately apparent, but for 
informal groups it was no less true. While the relations in such 
groups were not formally prescribed, they could be clearly observed 
in the interactions of individuals. [62, viii, italics ours] 

As we shall see presently, adolescent boys, particularly those who 
experience economic stress and deprivation, who are actually (if 
not legally) denied the opportunity to identify themselves organ- 
ically with society at large, cannot help but gravitate to each other 
in their common destiny to form spontaneously more or less or- 
ganized groups which provide them with some kind of status, 
some means of satisfying their youthful deprivations. If these 
same boys could identify themselves with a group that held oppo- 
site values and used other devices to achieve the same ends, they 
would have formed their loyalties and oriented their activities 

In chapter 7 we pointed out certain important implications 
which contact with age-mate groups had on the process of ego 
development. Thrasher comments: 

The majority of gangs develop from the spontaneous play-group. 
[60, 29] 

In the light of our earlier discussion, this fact acquires particular 
significance. More recently, Whyte [61] further substantiated 
Thrasher's observation: 

The clique structure arises out of the habitual association of mem- 
bers, over a long period of time. The nuclei of most gangs can be 
traced back to early boyhood years when living close together provided 
the first opportunities of social contacts. [61] 

These observations show in a concrete way the effect of spontane- 
ous age-mate contacts and games on the developing social identity 
of children. It is immaterial for our argument, of course, whether 
all gangs develop from early childhood contacts, or whether many 
of them are products of- the adolescent age level. Clifford Shaw 
reports several concrete cases of gangs which started when young- 
sters exchanged stories of exciting experiences and began to or- 


ganize various exploits. These interactions tend to produce a 
group structure which varies in its stability according to the 

In the process of group (gang) formation, the relative standing 
of one individual to another becomes defined. Each member 
acquires a relative status with appropriate functions of authority 
and responsibility. The leader himself emerges in the process of 
interaction in diverse group activities. Thrasher points out: 

There is a process of selection in the gang, as a result of the struggle 
for status, whereby the ultimate position of each individual is deter- 
mined. The result of this process depends largely upon the individual 
differences both native and acquired which characterize the mem- 
bers of the group. [60, 334] 

Whyte, who lived in the slums and intimately associated with 
gangs, formulated in a clear-cut way the crystallization of a relative 
role or status for each member, as well as shifts of status with 
changing situations: 

Each member of the corner gang has his own position in the gang 
structure. Although positions may remain unchanged over long 
periods of time, they should not be conceived in static terms. To have 
a position means that the individual has a customary way of interact- 
ing with other members of the group. When the pattern of inter- 
actions changes, the positions change. [62, 262 /.] 

On the basis of extensive observations of hundreds of gangs, 
Thrasher states: 

While it may sometimes be true that a gang forms about a leader, 
the reverse is generally true: the gang forms and the leader emerges 
as the result of interaction. [60, 351] 

Certainly individual differences in various psychological charac- 
teristics of the members, their relatively high or low status in the 
group, their superiority in diverse abilities may secure a particular 
member leadership in the gang. Thrasher mentions such charac- 
teristics as physical strength, athletic prowess, gameness, quickness 
and firmness of decision, and imagination as qualities which deter- 
mine the leadership of a particular member in a particular gang. 
Which one of these or other qualities will help a person gain 


leadership in a gang is situationally determined by the particular 
pattern of activities the gang goes in for. As Thrasher states: 

The marks of leadership vary from gang to gang. The type of boy 
who can lead one gang may be a failure or have a distinctly subordi- 
nate role in another. . . . Physical and athletic prowess, which stand 
the leader in such good stead in most gangs, for example, v/ould not 
be valued in the following type of group. [60, 344] 

Then he cites the case of "The Bandits" who, while carrying on 
"delinquent" activities, engage as a group in such activities as 
"social and folk dancing with girls." In another example he notes 

A hunchback was a very successful leader of a gang of healthy boys. 
[60, 350] 

Studies on personality traits, such as aggressiveness or submissive- 
ness, acquire concrete meaning only when the situational factors 
in any group situation are given due consideration. 

Leadership in a group is by no means an accidental or arbitrary 
affair. The status of the leader is exercised not simply by virtue of 
some personality trait, but rather because the leader lives up to 
certain expectations demanded by the pattern of established rela- 
tionships. As Thrasher states, 

The leader has considerable power over his subordinates so long as 
he does not abuse it. [60, 292, italics ours] 

Whyte [61] points out that the higher a member's status is, the 
stricter the expectations are for the fulfillment of his responsibilities 
and obligations. 

Not all corner boys live up to their obligations equally well, and this 
factor partly accounts for the differentiation in status among the men. 
The man with a low status may violate his obligations without much 
change in position. [61, 657] 

But this is not the case for members with high status, including the 
leader. The leader, as Thrasher says, "goes where others fear to 
go" in the exploits of the gang. 

The number of members in the gang may range from two to 
several hundred. It is interesting to note that usually the member- 


ship does not exceed limits which will make interpersonal contacts 
difficult or direct face-to-face group pressure on the members im- 
possible. For example, out of 895 gangs Thrasher examined from 
this point of view, 538 gangs had membership within the range of 
10 to 20 members each. 

The specific variations in the particular situations that give rise 
to gangs and the variations in the aspirations produce gangs with 
different characteristics. 

No two gangs are just alike. The cases investigated present an 
endless variety of forms, and every one is in some sense unique. 

Gangs specialize in certain types of activity: 

Gangs which develop specialized structures and codes for the fur- 
therance of some interest of their own may be regarded as functional 
types. Thus, groups are organized around such dominant interests as 
junking, sex, picking pockets, stealing, athletics, gambling, or some 
special type of crime. In each case they develop their own technique. 
[60, 297] 

These different groups start spontaneously around a more or less 
diffuse nucleus and become structured and organized in various 
degrees as time goes on. 

All sorts of collective products emerge in the process of inter- 
action in group activities and experiences. The new group prod- 
ucts further strengthen the group structure and solidarity, re- 
enforcing group pressure on the individual members. Gang 
names, such as "Dirty Dozen," "Lilies of the Valley," "Shielders," 
"Hudson Dusters," "Yakey Yakes," "Five Points," "Vultures," 
"Forty Thieves," add to the feeling of group belongingness. 8 
Gang members are called by special nicknames assigned according 
to their relative positions in the group. Thrasher says: 

Personalities are recognized by the names applied to the members 
of the gang. Individual peculiarities, which have an important effect 
in determining status, are likely to give color to the boy's whole per- 
sonality. He is named accordingly, and his name often indicates the 
esteem in which he is held by the group. [60, 339 f.] 

These arc names of actual gangs taken from [60, 275 /., 281] . 


In the course of time, the gang develops definite boundaries as 
its area of activity. Psychologically, this area is appropriated as 
the gang's own area for operation. Violations of this appropriation 
by some other gang are on occasion reacted to violently. 

Just as among nations borderline disputes sometimes precipitate 
disastrous wars, so gangs may be mobilized and led to battle on the 
same issue. [60, 726] 

Time and again, Thrasher calls attention to the fact that group 
solidarity, the "we" feeling, is strengthened through outside re- 
sistances, collective fights, and alliances with other gangs. In some 
cases, this outside resistance may come from adults. Thrasher 
quotes a gang member: 

''This desire to escape family supervision marked the beginning of 
our feeling of solidarity. Our first loyalties were to protect each other 
against our parents." [60, 31] 

Similar to the feelings of belongingness in any group, and the 
development and delineation of attitudes towards the "in-group" 
and "out-group" members, attitudes develop which define co- 
operative and sympathetic in-group relationships, various degrees 
of prejudice and of social distance towards outsiders. 

All systematic investigators like Thrasher, Shaw, Zorbaugh, 
Landesco, and Whyte have observed that appropriate norms arise. 
These, in turn, regulate the formation of the attitudes and the 
subsequent behavior of the members. In Thrasher's words: 

Every gang tends to develop its own code of conduct, of which its 
members are more or less aware and which may be more or less 
rigidly enforced upon them. The code of the gang is in part reflected 
from the patterns of behavior in its own social world, in part the 
result of the development of primary group sentiments, and in part 
the product of the individual group in its own special environment. 
[60, 284] 

In a similar way, group slogans arise which formulate gang prac- 
tices in a short-cut way. Expressive words become standardized 
for the gang, have special meaning to the members. 


The isolated life of gangland leads to the development of a distinct 
universe of discourse. . . . Like its morality, this argot, too, follows to 
some extent patterns in its own social world. ... [60, 266 f.] 

As in any social group of any degree of solidarity, these norms 
are inculcated in the individual members in the very process of 
interaction, generating feelings of belongingness and loyalty. 
Also, as in any social group, various sorts of pressures, correctives 
(such as applause and ridicule), and punishments are applied to 
keep the attitudes and behavior of the members in line. 

Opinion in the gang manifests its pressure in the variety of mech- 
anisms through which group control is exerted, such as applause, pre- 
ferment and hero worshipping as well as ridicule, scorn, and ostracism. 
... In the gang the member who has broken the code may be sub- 
jected to a beating or in extreme cases may be marked for death. 
[60, 297 /..italics ours] 

Deviations from group behavior are thus reacted to by the group 
as a whole with varying degrees of severity. Since "squealing" is 
the worst deviation, in some cases it is punishable by death. On 
the positive side, group identification generates at times the highest 
degree of co-operative and sympathetic tendencies within the de- 
linquent gang. There exists within the gang "a sort of brother- 
hood and mutual kindliness. This manifests itself in many forms 
of self-sacrifice. If a member is in serious danger the rest will 
spare no pains to save his life. One boy will sometimes undergo 
severe hardships to aid another." [290] 

After a boy becomes a good member of the gang, his personal 
identity is linked to that of the group. His status in the gang is, 
in a major way, his status as he experiences it. For it is in the gang 
interaction that he lives his life intimately and intensely. When 
his ties with the gang are strained, he may feel he is losing his 
ground. Thrasher aptly puts it: 

Any standing in the group is better than none, and there is always 
the possibility of improving one's status. Participation in gang activi- 
ties means everything to the boy. It not only defines for him his 
position in the only society he is greatly concerned with, but it becomes 
the basis of his conception of himself. [60, 332, italics ours] 


Consequently, his feeling of personal security is derived from gang 
membership. This feeling of security "tends to remove the qualms 
that might well arise in an individual embarking upon some peril- 
ous undertaking on his own account!' [296, italics ours] Here we 
see the differences, even qualitative differences, between the indi- 
vidual alone, or in one situation, and the same individual in a 
group with which he strongly identifies himself. Under the pres- 
sure of the group situation, the individual's social identity may be 

Thrasher cites many concrete cases of such differential group 
behavior. In the report on one gang by an ex-member we will see 
(p. 303) how a member of a gang where toughness was at a pre- 
mium dropped his ruffian ways and was always quiet and courte- 
ous when he went out on the sly with his girl. Here is another 

We have one case of an Italian boy, R , who in the gang can 

always be counted upon to respond to an appeal for the best for him- 
self and the gang. Outside the gang his record has not been so satis- 
factory. In the gang he is stimulated by group appreciation; while 
without he is not. [60, 295] 

Group loyalty may at times dominate over serious cases of per- 
sonal injury, as we shall see shortly (p. 301) in the case of a 
gang member who refused to squeal on another member who had 
cut his head open by a blow with a lead pipe. Individuals in 
group situations sometimes become so personally involved in the 
collective situation that they do not isolate themselves as individ- 
uals to figure out what is most advantageous to them personally. 

Whatever we did, we knew would be done as a group. At the end 
of the season Steve suggested that we enlist as a body (the whole 
team), and leave at once. Some wanted to join the marines; some 
the army; but a vote decided on the navy. In order to stay together, 
we went to the Great Lakes Naval Training Station and enlisted as 
a group of apprentice seamen, even though some of us could have 
received ratings had we been willing to quit the others. [60, 188] 

All of these facts indicate the inadequacy of any approach to 
personality which posits unchanging personality traits, especially 
those concerned with social characteristics, without due regard to 


the determination of behavior by situational factors generated in 
any collective interaction in a psychologically lawful way. These 
psychological products emerging in the process of gang formation 
and conduct are amply illustrated by Thrasher. His account of 
"The Dirty Dozen" gang, which he characterizes as a fairly typical 
group, will give us concrete evidence of the structural properties, 
emergent products, and subsequent attitudes and identifications 
found in a group. This report was made by a former associate of 
the gang. 

The Dirty Dozen began merely as the result of a dozen or more 
fellows (from sixteen to twenty-two years of age) meeting casually 
on a street corner at the entrance of one of Chicago's parks and later 
on in "Mike's" poolroom a short distance away. Most of the boys 
were loafers, who spent their time swimming, playing baseball and 
football, shooting craps, or sitting around and talking. They liked 
brawls and fights, and the gang helped to satisfy these wants with less 
personal discomfort than might occur if one fellow alone started hos- 
tilities or tried to steal something. Of their various activities, some 
form of conflict seems to have been the chief. 

There was war between the gang and the police, for even though 
the latter did not always have any particular offense for which the 
fellows were wanted, they did try to break up the group whenever it 
congregated on the corner. 

The gang as a whole often came into direct conflict with other 
gangs. One night at the old Imperial Theater, the Dirty Dozen found 
themselves seated opposite the "Chi" gang, their rival in football and 
baseball. During the show, which was poor vaudeville, the fellows 
started to hurl remarks at each other. The verbal conflict grew into a 
near-riot, which continued until the police came. 

The Dirty Dozen, however, was capable of collective action against 
other enemies than rival gangs. One night while the race riots of 1919 
were at their height, the gang, armed with revolvers, blackjacks, and 
knives, started out to get the "niggers." 

At Thirty-fifth and State streets, five miles or more from their own 
territory, and after some preliminary skirmishes, "Shaggy" Martin 
threw the trolley of a street car filled with colored people. The rest of 
the gang, which had increased to about twenty by this time, piled on, 
"Shaggy," who was left alone at the back to hold the trolley-rope, 


was standing there with it in one hand and a billy in the other when 
a colored woman slashed him across the heart with a razor. Then 
someone hit her, and another fellow "got" her husband. 

Shaggy died in the patrol on the way to the hospital. "Swede" 
Carlson, the only fellow the police caught at that time, said that his 
last words were, "What will mother say?" The gang took up a 
collection for flowers, but the direct result of the episode was a desire 
for revenge. They killed two negroes and "beat up" five more after 
the death of Shaggy. 

The standing of each fellow in the gang was determined by compe- 
tition and conflict within the group itself. Each member was trying 
to outdo the others in football and everything else. There was always 
a struggle for the leadership, which usually went to the best fighters. 

"Slicker" Charlie and Ellman were for some reason or other "on the 
outs," and a fight was arranged to see who was better. The encounter 
came off in the park. Each fellow had his second, and the time of 
the rounds was set just as if it were a regular prize fight. Ellman, 
who won, mauled Charlie severely, and the latter fell into disgrace, at 
least in his own opinion. 

This feeling of his own belittlement caused Charlie much resent- 
ment toward the victor and led to another fight in which Charlie 
struck Ellman with a lead pipe. The blood shot out of a big gash in 
his head. After they had taken him to the emergency hospital, a cop 
came in and wanted to know how it had happened, but Ellman would 
say nothing except that he had fallen and his head hit a rock. The 
code of the gang was that honor forbade squealing. With this incident 
the feud came to an end. 

An example of conflict of the play type, which had a very tragic 
outcome, occurred one day in the park. About eight of the fellows 
went to the lagoon and piled into two tiny rowboats. It was a warm 
summer evening, and the bunch was feeling pretty good, so they de- 
cided to have a battle. Splashing soon led to striking with oars. The 
battle was raging when one of the boats went over. In it was a fellow 
called "Steam," who could not swim. The others struck out for the 
shore, but Steam went down. As soon as they discovered that he was 
gone, they went out and dived for him until one of them succeeded 
in getting the body. The fire department came and a pulmotor was 
used, but to no avail. Before the funeral a collection was taken up, 
and an expensive floral piece was purchased. The gang turned to the 
good for one day, and every member went to the church. Steam was 


never spoken of afterward, for each one of them felt a little bit 
responsible for his death. 

Members of the gang often engaged in shady exploits as individuals 
or in pairs. Ellman and "Dago" were always managing to make some 
money in one way or another. At one time Ellman told me of the 
"booze" ring, for which he and Dago did the delivering. Where they 
got the booze I never found out, but they made $25 or $30 apiece for 
a night's work and gambled it away at a place which was a regular 
Monte Carlo, with tables for crap-shooting, and caller's chips which 
were purchased from the cashier. 

The same pair were involved in the robbery of a golf shelter. 
Owing to Ellman's carelessness, he was followed and arrested. He 
was convicted of petty larceny and put on probation, but the police 
could not make him reveal the name of his pal. By keeping mum he 
saved Dago a lot of trouble. 

Another example of loyalty was an incident which occurred when 
the gang went to Detroit. Dago gave the money which he was to 
use for carfare home to a younger fellow. Although it was winter, 
he himself rode the blind. Since the train took water on the fly, he 
was frozen to the train when it pulled in. 

The gang also enjoyed many quiet evenings. It was the rule for 
the fellows to meet at Mike's on winter nights to shoot pool and talk. 
In the summer their hang-out was on the corner at the entrance to the 
park. There was a tendency to stick together at all times in play, just 
as in other activities. They often went swimming. Every year they 
played football, for which they tried to keep in training, and they 
developed a good team. The older fellows were the leaders in their 
athletic activities. 

One of the exploits of the gang was a migration from Chicago to 
Detroit when high wages were being paid to automobile-workers. 
They rented a house there and the whole gang lived together. Even 
though they were making fabulous wages, they did not save a cent, 
and finally came back to Chicago broke. It was this Detroit adven- 
ture that made bums out of most of them. They had drinking orgies 
almost every night at their house, and the crap games took their 

The gang controlled its individual members, particularly when the 
group was together. As individuals, and in other group relationships 
they were not so bad, but in the gang they tried to act as tough as 
possible. The man who danced, who went out with girls, or who 
was well-mannered was ostracized. Charlie used to act hard-boiled, 


and he even wore his cap so that it made him look tough. Ellman, 
who liked to give the impression that he was a ruffian, was going with 
a girl on the sly. When he was with the gang he was one of the 
meanest fellows in it, but when he went out with his girl he was very 
courteous, quitting his loud talk and dropping his braggadocian air. 
In the last few years the gang has disintegrated. There has been a 
tendency for its members to be incorporated into the more conven- 
tional activities of society. The majority of them seem to have be- 
come more settled in their mode of life. Some have moved away. 
Even the fellows who have changed, however, are still pretty low 
under the polished surface. Gang habits and influences still persist. 
[60, 46-50] 

The reasons for the disintegration of a gang give us further 
insight into the mechanism of group identification. We have seen 
that gangs are formed by boys as they strive to relieve deprivations 
and secure for themselves a stable and genuine social identity. It is 
not a mere coincidence, then, that "settling down" in conventional 
society tends to disintegrate gang loyalties or, at least, to cause 
members to drop out of active gang participation. As' the former 
associate of the Dirty Dozen gang wrote in the last paragraph of 
his report, there is "a tendency for its members to be incorporated 
into the more conventional activities of society. The majority of 
them seem to have become more settled in their mode of life." 
Desertions from the gang probably vary with the degree of or- 
ganization and solidarity of the group. 

According to Thrasher, a "new activity of settlement, play- 
ground, or club" may take away some of the gang members. 
Thrasher cites marriage, becoming a family man, as one "of the 
most potent causes for the disintegration of the older groups." [36] 
Whyte summarizes the process concisely: 

To the casual observer the corner gang seems to go on for years 
without change, but actually changes are always taking place; and, 
as the men grow out of their twenties, the gang itself tends to dis- 
integrate. Some of the members marry and have children. Even if 
they continue to hang on the corner, their interests are no longer con- 
fined to that social area. With marriage, some move out of Corner- 
ville; and, even when they return to spend time with the boys, they 
are not the active members they once were. In this period of life the 


corner boy is expected to "settle down" and find the job that will 
support him and his family in future years. He becomes a different 
fellow, and his gang either falls apart or is included in some larger 
club organization. [62, 35] 

Not all gang members "settle down" in the orthodox established 
life of society after their adolescent years by getting a steady job, 
marrying, and so on. Some go on to participate in the more grim 
exploits of the adult gangs. 9 In these adult gangs, group loyalty 
and conformity are more exacting, perhaps, in proportion to the 
rewards and punishments gang members face as the consequence 
of their exploits. As a result, the structural properties and pres- 
sures of groups imposed on members of adult gangs become more 
rigid. Deviations are punished more ruthlessly, in many cases by 
death. Landesco [21] has given close-range accounts of such adult 
gangs and of their exacting structural properties in his impressive 
study of "Organized Crime in Chicago." There he cites concrete 
instances of death penalties meted out to deviant gang members. 

On the basis of his longitudinal and intensive studies of the gang 
world, Landesco generalizes on the group norms that emerge to 
determine the attitudes and behavior of the gang. He comments 
on how gangs at times try to impose their codes on the out-groups 
with which they are in contact: 

The gang not only has its own code which governs the conduct of 
its members, but it even goes so far as to impose it upon outside 
society. In recent years in Chicago, the public has become familiar 
with the bold practices of criminal gangs in terrorizing witnesses and 
in exacting the death penalties upon them and upon members of the 
gang who are suspected of having given information to the police. 
An inside view of the attitudes and codes of a notorious criminal gang 
shows how a closely \nit group develops its own standards and is 
outraged and puzzled by the attempts to deal with them according to 
the law. [21, 1055, italics ours] 

Landesco goes on to indicate that gang members "form a group 
dominated by the gangster's code of loyalty," that the "welfare, 

9 The study of factors that determine whether a gang member will "settle down" 
after adolescent years or advance to membership in adult gangs should be of great 
significance psychologically. We cannot diverge here to make a special issue of the 


standards, and laws of organized society evoke no response in their 
hearts and minds." [1057] He gives concrete illustrations of 
"gangsters' mutual loyalty" [1053] ; of how "a man of character" 
is defined among the gang members as prescribed by gang norms 
[1047] ; and how, once these norms are well standardized and in- 
culcated in the youthful candidates, "a stigma is soon attached to 
legitimate employment." [1046] 

Time and again, Landesco emphasizes that it is only by coming 
into contact with the pressures and punishments of society outside 
of his underworld that the gang member "gets his first sense of 
the necessity of justifying his behavior." [1048] * For within his 
own group and the underworld which constitutes his real psycho- 
logical reference group, he derives his relative status through the 
degree to which he fulfills and surpasses the prescribed expecta- 
tions of his group. In formulating this point, it seems to us that 
Landesco has provided one of the best possible characterizations 
of the psychological properties of more or less closed groups and 
the subsequent conforming experiences and behavior of individual 

The gangster's defense of his mode of life arises only when he comes 
in contact with the legitimate outside world. Only then does he 
become conscious of a conflicting way of living. In his own group, 
on the contrary, he achieves status by being a gangster, with gangster 
attitudes, and enhances his reputation through criminal exploits. His 
contacts with the police and the courts and his successive confinements 
in the corrective, reformatory, and penal institutions, beginning with 
the Juvenile Detention Home, then in turn the Industrial Training 
School, the reformatory and the penitentiary, gain him the prestige of 
a veteran in his group. His return from the State Reformatory at 
Pontiac or from the penitentiary at Joliet is the occasion of sympathy 
and rejoicing from his gang brothers. The bitterness engendered 
within him by punishment and the feelings of revenge nurtured by 
his mutual association with other convicts have more deeply impressed 
upon him the psychology of the criminal world. Then, too, the 
stigma which society places upon him as an ex-convict identifies him 
the more with the underworld. [21, 1043, italics ours] 

In another interesting study, "The Woman and the Under- 
world," Landesco [22] reports the case of a high-grade Chicago 


gangster. This study contains significant hints concerning the 
psychology of group membership by its inclusion of a concrete 
case from real life showing the dominance of established group 
ties over the promise of a settled life with plenty of money and an 
attractive and refined woman. Among "five women who entered 
the life of Eddie Jackson," the case of the "Companionate Woman 
for Whom He Cared" is particularly illuminating from this point 
of view. The companionate woman "was an American girl, born 
in the East. She was an attractive looking woman tall, about 
five feet eight inches, weighed about 130 or 135 pounds, had 
studied music and had graduated from a finishing school. She 
always retained a maid in the house." [894] 

Miss 's father was a manufacturer in the east. Occasionally he 

came to Chicago for a cure, which was known as the "gold cure" and 
was given for $25 a treatment. He took two or three treatments a 
week. [22, 595] 

Miss tried hard to reform Eddie Jackson and to settle down 

with him in the East. In Jackson's own words: 

She wanted me to quit and go to work. She had plenty of money. 
We had our trunks packed to go to New York and she wanted to 
start me in some business. [595] 

She wanted to help me start in any business I might choose. I had 
some money. I cannot say that I did not have plenty of chances, but 
I liked the excitement of the racket, the politics, and the fixing the 
successes and the failures. [22, 896] 

Jackson finally made up his mind to leave for New York: 

Our trunks were packed and I decided to let her go ahead, and 
follow five days later. I never reached New York. [22, 896] 

The successes and failures of his own group had become so well 
ingrained in Eddie Jackson that they weighed more heavily than 
the settled life which came so closely within his reach. In Eddie's 
own words: 

You see, there was a good deal of excitement and interest, and some 
skill involved in the racket and it was not so easy to separate from 
it for the sake of Miss . [22, 896] 


Landesco's analysis sheds light on the dominance of group iden- 
tification over other factors in this case: 

Upon his [Eddie Jackson's] release from prison, he went directly to 
her apartment. She wanted him to leave Chicago, to change his ways 
and friends. The prison experience had changed her (not him), had 
sobered her; the lark was over, the feast of freedom embittered. She 
insisted. He allowed her to leave. He could not leave his under- 
world. [22, 901 , italics ours] 

Generality of gang formations. If gangs were a phenomena 
occurring only in Chicago or a few large cities, there could be no 
justification for generalizing from gang material about spontane- 
ous group formations, their psychological function for the indi- 
vidual, the rise of group products, and their subsequent role in 
regulating members' behavior. However, sociological literature 
gives abundant evidence that spontaneous group formations like 
gangs, far from being isolated or rare phenomena, occur quite 
generally occur, in fact, wherever individuals are under the stress 
of the various factors already mentioned as important in spontane- 
ous group formation, as, for example, various sorts of deprivation, 
lack of a stable social identity. 

The almost universality of spontaneous group formations under 
the stress of these factors has been pointed out by Gist and Hal- 
bert. [18] 

Ganging is a natural process. Whether the activities of a gang are 
perverse or constructive depends upon the character of the habitat of 
the gang upon the culture patterns predominating in the region and 
upon the sequences of situations that arise in the natural history of 
the gang. The gang is a form of adjustment that boys, and even 
girls, make whenever their family or neighborhood do not satisfy 
their major wishes in a conventional way. [18, 272, italics ours] 

In 1925, Park [42] commented on the generality of spontaneous 
group formation, tracing much of it back to the play group, which 
"under the conditions of urban life" is assuming "an increasing 
importance." [Ill] Such groups frequently evolve into gangs 
which "have exercised a considerably greater influence in forming 
the character of the boys who compose them than has the church, 
the school^ or any other communal agency outside of the families 


and homes in which the members of the gang are reared." [112] 
In Asbury's book, The Gangs of New Yorl(, [5] we learn that 
gangs of boys and young men have existed since New York City's 
early days. He notes, for example, that during and after the Civil 
War, "as the slums increased in extent, gangsters of all types and 
ages multiplied in numbers and power." [238] This increase in 
the number of gangsters was related to the increasing number of 
gangs often "composed of lads from eight to twelve years of age." 
[239] He also notes that gangs of similar sorts occur in various 
ethnic and national groups, including orientals. From material 
collected in 20 American cities, Shaw and McKay [53] show that 
the spontaneous formation of gangs which engage in "delinquent" 
activities occurs wherever the causes already indicated are found to 
exist. Basing their generalizations on data from such diverse cities 
as Chicago, Richmond, Peoria, Denver, Boston, and Spokane, the 
authors conclude: 

"Delinquency particularly group delinquency, which constitutes 
a preponderance of all officially recorded offenses committed by 
boys and young men has its roots in the dynamic life of the com- 
munity." [435, italics ours] These roots are "products of the oper- 
ation of general processes more or less common to American 
cities." [415] Evidence supporting the authors' statement that 
such statistics may be interpreted in terms of groups is given by 
a study of boys brought to court in Cook County. This revealed 

. . . 8L8 per cent of these boys committed the offenses for which 
they were brought to court as members of groups. And when the 
offenses were limited to stealing, it was found that 89 per cent of all 
offenders were taken to court as group or gang members. [53, 167 f.] 

In many additional cases, the influence of gang membership was 
to be seen. 

Studies of boy transients and tramps show further how some 
members of the younger generation drift away from established 
conventional family life, from institutions such as schools and the 
church, and gravitate toward patterns of loyalties and identifica- 
tions that have already been informally created by other individ- 
uals who had already found the more established ways of life un- 


satisfying. A youngster who "takes to the road" may have his eyes 
opened to the excitement and mobility of this way of life from 
older and experienced members of transient groups. [2, 256] [3, 
300] [4, 756] [41, 64] Many transients take to the road during 
adolescence. This is significant in view of the factors that con- 
tribute to adolescent discontent with the established order of 

Since there is always a tendency to attribute gang formations to 
some psychological factors or traits peculiar to the gang members 
themselves, we stress again the fact that gang formations serve the 
same psychological function as any membership group does for 
its members a school clique, a fraternity or sorority, a club. A 
gang provides a social identification, a status. Thrasher cites 
many cases of gangs or embryonic gangs formed in the schools. 
And we have already seen how adolescents gravitate towards each 
other to form more or less confidential cliques when conventional 
settings do not afford them social anchorings or identities in har- 
mony with their developing longings and the values of their new 
generation. They drift away to form their own intimate social 
cliques, even though some of these may be short-lived. Under 
certain conditions these cliques may develop into gangs. Thrasher 
states that "a clique may serve as the basis for a gang" [60, 320] 
or "in a certain sense a well-developed clique is an embryonic 
gang." [320] The objective purposes towards which the group 
(clique or gang) activities are directed may be quite different, even 
diametrically opposite. But from the point of view of group for- 
mation, essentially the same psychological mechanisms are at work 
in the various sorts of group formations. So we must draw no 
sharp and artificial distinctions between cliques and gangs in 
seeking the psychological principles involved in group formations. 

The artificiality of drawing sharp lines, in relation to the basic 
properties of groups, of conceiving them as closed and unchanging 
entities can be shown in more diverse groups. Taking the ex- 
amples of a momentary group situation, caused by a serious auto- 
mobile accident on the one hand, and the organized and lasting 
group core of a senate body on the other hand, Sapir [48] calls 
attention to the fallacy of making any arbitrary demarcations: 


There is in reality no definite line of division anywhere along the 
gamut of group forms which connect these extremes. If the auto- 
mobile accident is serious and one of the members of the crowd is a 
doctor, the informal group may with comparatively little difficulty 
resolve itself into something like a medical squad with an implicitly 
elected leader. On the other hand, if the government is passing 
through a great political crisis, if there is little confidence in the repre- 
sentative character or honesty of the senators or if an enemy is be- 
sieging the capitol and likely at any moment to substitute entirely 
new forms of corporate authority for those legally recognized by the 
citizens of the country, the Senate may easily become an unimpor- 
tant aggregation of individuals who suddenly and with unexpected 
poignancy feel their helplessness as mere individuals. [48, 179] 

Impact of society at large. In our analysis of the influence of 
the group and group products in regulating the behavior of indi- 
vidual members, it is important to add that, although once an 
individual is a member of a group (gang) once he identifies him- 
self with it the particular sort of behavior in question (for ex- 
ample, delinquency) is not due only to contact with the group 
(gang). In our discussion of the essentially similar psychological 
functions served by various spontaneous group formations, and in 
our demonstration of the effects of group loyalties and identifica- 
tions on the behavior of individual members, we do not even im- 
ply that group formations of this sort have, in the larger sense, 
any existence independent of the social milieu in which they are 
formed. For these groups are obviously, in turn, products of eco- 
nomic, ethnic, and other major social situations in the society at 
large. Thus, Shaw [49] and Zorbaugh [63] have indicated that 
gangs engaging in delinquent activities are products of the exist- 
ing social milieu with its social and class structure, as Shaw com- 
ments, of "processes more or less common to American cities." 
Anderson [4], in criticizing his own neglect of larger social condi- 
tions in studying transients, recently indicated that the factors giv- 
ing rise to transiency are inexorably tied together with sociological, 
technological, and economic conditions and changes. The very 
factors which give rise to spontaneous groups are inevitably found 
gs features of the larger social system. 


By the same token, the particular activities, standards, and the 
like which provide individuals with social standing, status, or 
popularity in the larger society or in a particular stratum or local- 
ity of that larger society loom as important in the activities of 
these more or less well-structured subgroups. For example, the 
preponderance of athletics in the activities of boys' groups in 
America today reflects the value placed on such activities by society 
at large. The high premium placed on such things as feminine 
attractiveness or dancing is reflected in the activities of adolescent 
girls' cliques. The standard of living in a society has a major 
influence on the nature of a gang's exploits. Stealing cars assumes 
wide proportions among delinquent boys in the United States. 
The luxurious standards of an Al Capone and his gang could be 
found only in a society which makes possible "conspicuous con- 
sumption" of the staggering dimensions found among the leisure 
class of a Park Avenue or a Gold Coast. 

Certain prohibitions in society may provide gangs with a type 
of activity that seeks definite economic rewards. Zorbaugh [63] 
mentions, for example, the importance of "bootlegging" and "hi- 
jacking" in the gang activities of Chicago at the time of prohibi- 
tion. [174] In some strata of society, a high economic standing 
may be so keenly needed and highly valued that the means by 
which it is acquired may be relatively unimportant to the members 
of the community. For example, the local boy in the slums who 
achieves a decent or even luxurious way of life by "hi-jacking" may 
be regarded as a local hero, whereas outside of his community 
he is a "crook." In a "higher" level of society, the means by 
which some financial magnates gain their fortunes may be over- 
looked by other members of this society. 

In the last analysis, the major established standards of success 
or failure of the gang or the gangster world are derived from the 
competitive, individualistic, and financially hoarding standards of 
the society at large. This is clearly expressed by Andrew A. Bruce 
in his introduction to Landesco's survey of "Organized Crime in 
Chicago." [21, 815-821] Bruce characterizes the general nature 
of the behavior of the gang or gangster world as "a rebellion 
against organized society and the laws under which organized 


society has chosen to be ruled and governed." [5/5] He goes on 
to say that the major patterns of the gang world are derived from 
the social system in which it functions. 

Not the least of the disclosures that have been made are those of 
the permanence of the reigns of the lords of the underworld and the 
introduction of the capitalistic system into their operations. [21, 815] 

When adult gangs develop their enterprises to great proportions, 
they may become a real force in the economic and political life 
of the community. At the same time they still keep the structural 
properties of the in-group intact. In such cases, rather close rela- 
tionships may be established between business men, politicians, and 
gang leaders. 10 

Similarly, the prevalent intense competition between gang and 
gang, clique and clique, club and club reflects the intense social 
and economic competition of the larger culture. Gang fights be- 
tween children of various ethnic, racial, or religious groups often 
seem to reflect antagonisms and prejudices of the adult culture. 
In other instances, social, ethnic, religious, and racial demarcations 
may break down when individuals from such groups are brought 
closely together under the powerful stress of deprivations, similar 
ego-strivings, identifications, and so on. These are only some 
examples that can be cited of the impact of the macrocosm (larger 
society) upon the microcosm (gangs, cliques, social movements of 
various sorts). They cannot be neglected in any discussion of 
spontaneous group formation. 


There is substantial justification for the position of certain psy- 
chologists that the social psychology of group interactions and col- 
lective behavior in all its phases should be worked out in terms of 
the experience and reactions of single individuals if it is going to 
be psychology at all. In the previous section we gave a brief ac- 

10 These relationships arc admirably indicated in Landesco's survey [21], espe- 
cially in chapter 23 on "Racketeering," chapter 24 on "The Gangster and the 
Politician," and chapter 25 on "Funerals of Gangsters." 


count of some of the consequences of interaction in terms of the 
resulting group properties and their effects on individual mem- 
bers. In this section, we shall analyze in more detail material 
concerned with single individuals, and the way these individuals 
identify themselves with and participate in particular groups. As 
we shall see, when we approach group situations in terms of the 
single individual, we are led to the same conclusions concerning 
the social psychology of group interaction that were reached when 
we started with the properties of the group. Thus we can do 
away once more with the individual-group dichotomy. 

Our illustrations will be derived from "gang" members, not, 
however, because our main concern is the special type of behavior 
exhibited in delinquent groups. As we said before, group be- 
havior shown in gangs merely affords psychologists an unusually 
good opportunity to study group formations and differential group 
behavior in a rather clear-cut way. Such gang formations (under 
given conditions) can be traced comparatively easily. And since 
they are deviations, their major features stand out in bold relief. 

With the aid of expert investigators in the various fields con- 
cerned, Clifford Shaw intensively studied boys from the point of 
view of their socioeconomic background, their psychological 
make-up, and their physical characteristics. For a good many 
years he followed closely the lives of boys who participated as 
members of various gangs at different times. These studies are 
exemplary. They give admirable accounts of the economic-cul- 
tural setting in which these boys gravitate towards each other to 
form their own group and to participate in activities which relieve 
their deprivations. Shaw secured the "own stories" (informal 
autobiographies) of some of these boys and checked them against 
objective information he collected. In this discussion, we are in- 
terested chiefly in the group (gang) identifications, their effects in 
forming appropriate attitudes and in producing differential group 
behavior. Shaw's studies contain unusually clarifying insights 
into the problem of spontaneous group formation because of the 
stress of major deprivations and the lack of or conflict in personal 

The "own stories" are especially important for the psychologist. 
They show the group identifications, the attitudes formed in group 


situations, and the behavior conforming to these attitudes all as 
experienced by the participants themselves. These documents give 
the "essentially human" or psychological accounts of these gang 
boys' lives. In the words of Burgess, "In the life-history is revealed, 
as in no other way, the inner life of the person, his moral strug- 
gles, his successes and failures in securing control of his destiny 
in a world too often at variance with his hopes and ideals." [50, 
4] The following "own story" of a gang member furnishes us, 
for example, with considerable insight into the dynamics of spon- 
taneous group identifications and the inculcation of appropriate 
norms in the participants of the group: 

When I started to play in the alleys around my home I first heard 
about a bunch of older boys called the "Pirates." My oldest brother 
was in this gang and so I went around with them. There were about 
ten boys in this gang and the youngest one was eleven and the oldest 
one was about fifteen. . . . 

Tony, Sollie, and my brother John were the big guys in the gang. 
Tony was fifteen and was short and heavy. He was a good fighter 
and the young guys were afraid of him because he hit them and beat 
them up. Sollie was a little guy about twelve years of age. He 
couldn't fight, but he was a smart guy and told stories and made plans 
for the gang. He was the brains of the gang. My brother was fifteen 
and was bigger than Tony and was a good fighter. He could beat 
any guy in the gang by fighting, so he was a good leader and every- 
body looked up to him as a big guy. I looked up to him as a big guy 
and was proud to be his brother. . . . 

When I started to hang out with the Pirates I first learned about 
robbin. The guys would talk about robbin and stealing and went out 
on "jobs" every night. When I was eight I started to go out robbin 
with my brother's gang. We first robbed junk from a junk yard and 
sometimes from the peddlar. Sometimes we robbed stores. We would 
go to a store, and while one guy asked to buy something the other 
guys would rob anything like candy and cigarettes and then run. We 
did this every day. Sollie always made the plans and Tony and John 
would carry out the plans. . . . 

The gang had a hangout in an alley and we would meet there every 
night and smoke and tell stores and plan for robbin. I was little and 
so I only listened. The big guys talked about going robbin and told 


stores about girls and sex things. The guys always thought about 
robbin and bummin from school and sometimes from home. . . . 

Besides robbin, the gang went bummin downtown and to ball parks 
and swimming. On these trips we always robbed everything we 
could get. . . . 

When I was ten the gang started to robbin stores and homes. We 
would jimmy the door or window and rob the place. I always stayed 
outside and gave jiggers. The big guys went in and raided the place. 
They showed me how to pick locks, jimmy doors, cut glass, and use 
skeleton keys and everything to get into stores and houses. Every guy 
had to keep everything a secret and not tell anybody or he would be 
beat up and razzed. The police were enemies and not to be trusted. 
When we would get caught by the police we had to keep mum and 
not tell a word even in the third degree. 

/ looked up to my brother and the other big guys because of their 
courage and nerve and the way they could rob. They would tell me 
never to say a word to anybody about our robbin. My mother didn't 
even \now it. Some kids couldn't be in the gang because they would 
tell everything and some didn't have the nerve to go robbin. The guys 
with a record were looked up to and admired by the young guys. A 
stool-pigeon was looked down on and razzed and could not stay in 
the gang. . . . 

The guys stucJ{ together and helped each other out of trouble. They 
were real good pals and would stick up for each other. They were 
always planning new crimes and new ways to get by without being 
caught. Everyone hated the police and looked upon them as enemies. 
Anybody who was friendly to the police was not trusted. The plans 
for stealing were always secret and anybody who talked about them 
to fellows outside of the gang or to the police was not trusted and 
became an enemy of the Pirates. . . . [50, 10f. f italics ours] 

Clifford Shaw published these intensive longitudinal studies and 
"own stories" in The ]ac\ Roller (1930) [50], The Natural His- 
tory of a Delinquent Career (1931) [51], and Brothers in Crime 
(1938) [52]. His work on the "Jack Roller" (Stanley) is an inten- 
sive account of a boy who participated in delinquent activities and, 
at last, settled down to conventional society for good. Checking 
Stanley's own story against the objective data at his command and 
his contacts with Stanley for five years, Shaw states that "the sin- 
cerity of the story cannot be questioned" and that "the story re- 
veals his fundamental attitudes and typical reactions to the various 


situations in which he has lived." [50, 47] As we shall see, Stan- 
ley's account tells us a great deal about spontaneous group forma- 
tions and identifications when there is deprivation and lack of 
stable social links. 

Stanley was first studied by Dr. William Healy when he was 
seven years and ten months old. He was found to be a little above 
the average in intelligence and of about normal physical condition. 
He seemed 

... on the whole to be a very nice boy. During the examination 
he talked freely. [50, 198] 

He had a "winning smile." [198] 

The psychological tests at the age of eighteen showed an intelligence 
quotient of 1.06. [50, 799] 

Shaw gives a rather detailed account of the social and economic 
areas of Chicago in which Stanley's family lived at different pe- 
riods. They were slum areas with a relatively high degree of 
poverty and with conflicting immigrant and American values. 
Concerning one of the areas in which Stanley's family lived, Shaw 

In the present Polish neighborhood back of the yards, with a popu- 
lation in 1920 of 52.1 per cent foreign-born, there is a definite break 
between the foreign-born parents and their native-born children. [50, 


Stanley, the American born son of a Polish immigrant worker, was 
four years old when his mother died. A few months later his 
father married a woman who brought with her "seven children 
from two previous marriages." 

The stepmother favored her own children and discriminated against 
Stanley and his brother and sister. [50, 42] 

Throughout his story, Stanley complains bitterly about the treat- 
ment he received from her. With over ten children in the family, 
they went hungry most of the time. 

Under the stress of hunger and other conditions, Stanley started 
his real life activities in petty stealing, led by his step-brother and 
other boys a few years older. He kept himself away from the re- 


strained and miserable home situation. He entered school at the 
age of six but played hooky a great deal. 

Despite his frequent truancies, he was graduated at the age of 
thirteen and a half, while in the St. Charles School for Boys. [50, 32] 

His genuine psychological identifications and attitudes seem to 
have been little affected by the school, although it undoubtedly 
tried to mold him in the usual routine way. His real identification 
was with a gang he joined at the age of seven. This particular 
gang "consisted of about twelve members, who ranged in age from 
six to seventeen years." [44] Membership in this gang and, later, 
in other gangs gave Stanley a personal status and identity he did 
not find in his family or school. It was only as a member of the 
gang that he was not "looked down" upon. 

His delinquent activities began while he was in company with 
this group. As a member of this group and other gangs he ad- 
vanced progressively from "truancy and petty stealing at the early 
age of six years, to the more serious delinquency of 'jack-rolling' 
and burglary, in the adolescent period." [25] Arrests and commit- 
ments followed each other, so that Stanley spent almost half his 
youthful life in correctional institutions. 

Our chief concern in Stanley's story is the effect of group mem- 
bership on his identity and behavior. From this point of view, one 
of his experiences can serve as a starting point for the further 
examination of his story: 

One day my partner didn't show up, and right then and there I 
lost all my nerve. I needed someone with me to steal. I was too 
cowardly to steal alone. A companion made me brave and gave me 
a sense of security. I couldn't to save my soul steal a dime alone. 
[50, 86, italics ours] 

Without implying in the least that all delinquent behavior is a 
function of group behavior, this experience of Stanley's is signifi- 
cant. It gives a typical illustration of the psychological qualities 
of a group situation, irrespective of the direction group activities 
take. It is not unusual, for example, to hear a war veteran cite 
the case of some fellow who surprised his buddies by unexpected 
bravery for him during some active combat. 


". . . the life in the streets and alleys became fascinating and 
enticing" to Stanley very soon after he reached school age. In 
the streets he found two close companions, Tony and William, 
whom he regarded as heroes. He soon developed so he fit into 
their pattern, as any growing boy might fit into the pattern of his 
heroes, whatever their characteristics might be. 

To my child-seeing eyes, I visioned Tony as a great leader in the 
neighborhood, and he directed his gang around with much bravado. 
He and William were always stealing and talking about stealing and 
I fell in with them as soon as I began to play around in the neighbor- 
hood. [50, 51] 

Stanley identified himself so closely with the gang he happened 
to belong to at the time, was so anchored in its social setting, that 
he felt personally secure only in its atmosphere. We see his loss 
of ego bearings when he was outside this atmosphere. 

From the time I used to go to the markets and to West Madison 
Street with the old gang I had been attracted to throngs of people, not 
the Loop throngs, but the West Madison and South State Street 
throngs. / could not explain this irresistible interest, even if I wanted 
to. Perhaps it was the telepathy that is from one derelict to another. 
I do know full well that this human wreckage was always full of in- 
terest and mystery to my dreamy mind. Men of all nationalities and 
races, from the four corners of the earth, were there and brushed 
shoulders with the crooks and gunmen of the underworld. They 
were all attracted there, as I was, by the cheap movies, flophouses, 
cheap hashhouses, and, most of all, by the human derelicts that make 
West Madison Street what it is. When blue and bro\en-up I would 
always find an old pal there to tell my troubles to and receive the sym- 
pathy that comes through mutual understanding. All the old bums 
and human wrecks were my family. We all ate at the same table and 
enjoyed ourselves at the same theaters. In fact, we consisted of a 
brotherhood whose object was mutual pity and sympathy. The 
brotherhood was made up of ordinary "bos," pickpockets, pan-handlers, 
petty thieves, "jack-rollers," and the other wrecks that compose the 
underworld. Here was my favorite haunt, because my friends made 
their rendezvous there. It seemed to me that here the lights gleamed 
brighter, the lures were stronger, and that there were more bums to 
hide me from the stares of snobbish people. [50, 79 /., italics ours] 


But not any kind of a life that appears to be settled is sufficient 
to make one feel psychologically settled, even though it may afford 
food, shelter, and luxuries. When Stanley was an adolescent boy, 
he was taken into the home of the vice-president of a company 
where he worked for a time. The vice-president who "was mar- 
ried but had no children," even planned to adopt him. But Stan- 
ley felt he did not belong there. Something was missing. He 
longed for his pals, in whose company he felt himself at ease and 
a person in his own right. 

The surroundings in my new home and neighborhood took my 
breath away. My first day at the foster-home was like a sweet dream. 
The new luxury seemed to dazzle and blind me. My new father 
rode with me to work every morning and home in the evening. We 
had nice lunches together at noon. He talked nice to me, gave me 
spending money and good clothes, but I missed my old pals and the 
gay life we had lived. Here I did not have any boy chums, but had to 
spend my time playing the victrola. My foster-parents didn't have 
much life, but spent their time reading and playing a tame game of 
cards. They had lots of company of snobbish people, and they looked 
down on me. Even if they were nice, it was because of pity and 
charity. There was something missing. Eating at the table I was 
ill at ease. I couldn't do the things just right, and my foster-mother 
looked at my blunders through the corner of her eye. I compared 
everything with my sister's common fare and poor surroundings, and 
finally longed to go bac\ to my friends and pals. Back home I wasn't 
dressed up all the time, and could play and romp and gamble and 
swear. But here I was not free to move and talk as I was in the 
habit of doing before. Everything was different strange and stiff. 
/ felt out of place z city waif dependent upon charity. I had been in 
jail half a lifetime, but now I was suddenly placed in luxury after 
living in a dirty hovel. My adventurous spirit rebelled against this 
dry life and it soon won out. [50, 87 f., italics ours] 

After leaving this home, Stanley was again in the gang atmos- 
phere, in his own element. 

The lures and the irresistible call drew me on like a magnet. I was 
always helpless before them. I was like a canoe on a storm-swept sea, 
buffeted here and there, helpless and frail. / had about as much 
chance of controlling my desires to drift with the current of the under- 


world as the canoe had of braving the storm. But here I mingled 
with bums and derelicts like myself, and people did not stare at my 
rags and misery. Here I felt at home, for "misery loves company." 
So I drifted on with the rest of the human driftwood carried on by 
the current of West Madison Street's exclusive "Four Hundred* 5 or 
more. [50, 93, italics ours] 

In this social atmosphere, Stanley enjoyed the prestige acquired 
from his relative status in his new gang. 

There v/ere four of us who hung around together. The other three 
had been in St. Charles School for Boys while I was there, and that 
strengthened our faith in each other. / was loo\ed up to as the hero 
of the quartet because I had done fifty-six months in St. Charles, more 
than all the others put together. They naturally thought I was one 
who had a vast experience and was regarded as one might regard the 
big social hit of society. [50, 96, italics ours] 

Once groups or gangs are formed, reciprocal loyalties develop 
among the members. Norms arise more or less informally but 
nevertheless become binding within the group and are inculcated 
as personal values in the ego structure of the members. Stanley 
speaks of these reciprocal loyalties: 

My fellow-workers [in the gang] were fast guys and good pals, 
We were like brothers and would stick by each other through thick 
and thin. We cheered each other in our troubles and loaned each 
other dough. A mutual understanding developed, and nothing could 
break our confidence in each other. [50, 96] 

In a similar way, an atmosphere of solidarity is established in 
jail. Cliques or gangs are formed spontaneously on the basis of 
common interest and in the face of the common opposition to 

In the tailor shop [of the penal institution to which he was com- 
mitted on this particular occasion] were two pals that I had known 
in Pontiac. So we became friends immediately and helped each other 
out by exchanging reading materials, tobacco, and by giving each 
other warnings and inside tips about how to get by. // was a little 
mutual aid society, which is very necessary in prison. The prisoners 
have to band together for their own protection, [50, 155, italics ours] 


Once incorporated, the norms of this more or less isolated prison 
group may also be experienced as intensely felt personal values in 
much the same way that the norms of any social group are ex- 
perienced. Stanley's account illustrates this point: 

To squawk on a fellow-prisoner is an unpardonable sin and only 
the lowest characters will squawk. But there were boys who would 
squawk and they would usually become boy officers, so we did not 
trust them but harbored hatred toward them. They were not fit to be 
associated with decent boys. [50, 67, italics ours] 

We see from Stanley's own account how he made the norms of 
the isolated prison situation a part of him: 

I fell in the web without any experience, but soon got onto the 
ropes. My feeling was for the code and against the officials. Don't 
trust anybody except tried pals who won't squawk. [50, 67] 

Group norms may become so well incorporated as personal ego- 
attitudes that individual group members will observe them at the 
cost of personal punishment and hardship. This fact is concretely 
illustrated in Stanley's story: 

One Saturday afternoon all of us were playing on the drill field, 
and the first lieutenant (a boy) asked me to go to the cottage and 
bring his harmonica. While I was in the cottage I saw two other boys 
who had sneaked into the cottage, and they were stealing something. 
I took the harmonica to the lieutenant and ten minutes later I was 
accused of stealing some cigars from the basement. I denied the 
charge, and could have cleared myself by telling on the two boys, but 
I wouldn't squawk and break the code; consequently, I was given a 
good beating and forced to do "haunches" another hour. Many times 
did I suffer because I wouldn't squawk, but I'd die before I'd turn on 
a fellow prisoner. [50, 69] 

And just as good members of any organized group uphold the 
values or norms of the group, expect the same of other members, 
and impose various correctives and punishments on those who de- 
viate, so the good members of gangs become conscious of their 
own norms and react violently against deviants and nonconform- 
ists. Stanley believed 


. . . that any game should be played according to the rules of the 
game. Violators of rules should be punished. Crime is a game, and 
therefore as a rat violates the rules or code by informing the "dicks" 
and the "screws," he should be punished when caught, just like other 
criminals are punished. I think everyone will agree with me in my 
feelings about these low rats. All prisoners who are worthy of the 
name will agree with me. [50, 112] 

We saw in the last section that when gang members "settled 
down" in conventional society, they tended to pull away from the 
gang. This happened to Stanley. Through Clifford Shaw's in- 
sightful analysis of the case and his effective help in placing Stan- 
ley in situations which contributed to his settling down without 
making him feel out of place, Stanley eventually conformed to 
the norms of conventional society. When about 18, Stanley was 
released from the House of Correction, identifying "himself with 
the adult criminal group." [164] Shaw gave him new clothes 
and placed him in a congenial home, where, as Stanley reported, 
"They seemed to accept me and not look down on me." After 
several trials in jobs, he became a salesman and showed consider- 
able ability in this work, in which there was not much chance to 
be reminded constantly of his past record. He married a girl who 
told him that she did not care what he had done, but was inter- 
ested in what he was going to be. He enjoyed the company of 
her other young friends. Encouraged by Shaw, he enrolled in 
evening classes to complete his high school education. But 
throughout all this period, his old pals in the slum area still exerted 
influence over him. In Shaw's words: 

The influence of these earlier relationships did not begin to diminish 
until other interests and relationships were established in his new 
situation. We may assume that the gradual changes which are taking 
place in Stanley's conduct throughout this chapter reflect changes in 
his group relationships. [50, 175] 

Since thousands of young men, who may identify themselves with 
the adult of the criminal group at the end of their release from 
prison, do not have the expert guidance of an understanding per- 
son, it is likely that many of them will follow the lead of their 
more mature and grim gang identifications with all the conse- 


quences until they can be absorbed in work and in interpersonal 
relationships with society at large through the transformation of 
ego identifications. 11 

Another case presented in The Natural History of a Delinquent 
Career [51] is particularly interesting, because it traces the effects 
of gang influence on the identifications, attitudes, and activities of 
a boy, Sidney, who differed in some important respects from Stan- 
ley, the "jack roller." The results of Sidney's intelligence test at 
the age of 15 indicated "excellent mental development" and placed 
"him in the group having superior intelligence." His intelligence 
quotient was reported as 126. 

The physical and neurological examinations were negative. There 
was no indication of mental pathology. [51, 267] 

The community in which Sidney grew up was one of the worst 
slum areas in the city. He was the youngest of two children in 
a poor, often "destitute" Jewish family. Shortly after Sidney was 

Because of the father's repeated desertions, the mother was forced 
to seek employment outside of home. [51, 230] 

His brother, Abe, seven years older, "was in most respects a 
model person" of "average intelligence." 

The mother exercised much closer supervision of Abe than it was 
possible for her to exercise in the case of Sidney. [51, 234] 

Abe did not become associated with neighborhood gangs. 

Sidney's first social experiences outside of the home were with 
a neighborhood play group made up of children four or five years 
older than himself. As we shall see, Sidney rather consistently 
associated and managed to keep up with groups of boys older than 
himself. Possibly he was able to do so partly because he was un- 
usually intelligent. His delinquent activities (petty stealing) be- 
gan at about the age of seven after his entrance into this group. 
Sidney wrote of these early stealing experiences: 

11 For an account of the development of identifications with the criminal world, 
as well as for material relevant to gang effects and the impact of the community 
and larger society on youthful gangs, see [59, 51-81] . 


Never a thought occurred to me as to whether it was right or wrong, 
it was merely an interesting game. The apple or orange didn't ma\e 
as much difference as the getting of them. It was the taking them 
that I enjoyed. [55] 

One night I remember I rounded up a few of my acquaintances 
and invited them down to one of these fruit stores and showed them 
how I could get away with things. I stole about a dozen large beets. 
At another time I stole for the same bunch some tomatoes or some- 
thing else to eat. Everyone had a fine time and cheered me on to 
further efforts. I felt fine at achieving such success in their eyes. But 
a few of them tattled to my brother and I never surrounded myself 
with an audience after that. I don't mean that afterwards I stole by 
myself. The fact is that I never stole when I was by myself. The 
kick came when there was someone with me and the fun could be 
mutual. It was a merry, exciting pastime that interested me to the 
exclusion of all others. [51, 59 /., italics ours] 

Shaw verifies the fact that Sidney stole almost exclusively in the 
company of others and adds that "more than 90 per cent of the 
stealing offenses in cases brought before the Cook County court 
are committed by groups of two or more boys." [59] 

During this period, Sidney began to play truant from school, 
not so much because he disliked school as because it seemed dull 
compared to the thrilling activities of his gang. 

Despite his repeated truancy, his school report shows a record of 
good scholarship. [51, 231] 

Because Sidney was much younger and smaller than .the other 
gang members, he seldom got a fair cut of the booty. They would 
encourage him to pick a fight with an older boy and then enjoy 
seeing him "take" the bigger boy. But Sidney "didn't like this as 
I wanted to be one of them and not the object of their amuse- 
ment" [73, italics ours] 

After several experiences in the Parental School for delinquents 
and truants, Sidney moved with his family to a new neighborhood. 
His mother bought him his first new suit. For a year, he skated, 
played baseball, and so on, with the boys in this school and "was 
a model pupil." But the following winter, he decided to go to 
work, was picked up by the truant officer who akeady knew him 


well, and was sent oft to the Parental School again. This was his 
fourth term in this detention home. 

On his release, Sidney started back to school again. The "nice" 
boys and girls were not intimate with him. As he wrote: 

I was very unhappy and couldn't find anything to do that would 
interest me continuously. I knew that if I could get in with a gang 
I would find plenty of excitement and thrills, but I didn't know of 
any gang. It wasn't my first choice, but it was a good substitute and 
I knew it was interesting because I had belonged to a gang when I 
had been younger. Excitertient seemed to be my natural impulse and 
I greatly desired companionship some one with similar desires as 
mine. I wanted lots of fun. / fyiew how to get it in the legitimate 
way, but couldn't. So I wanted to go with some gang who broke the 
laws because I knew I could soon gain their attitudes because it 
would be naturally somewhat similar to the attitude of my old gang. 
[51, 113, italics ours] 

Finally, Sidney "dropped over to the west side to see what 
became of the old gang." [117] Afterward, he met several boys 
acquainted with older criminals at the Burns Athletic Club, whose 
membership, according to Shaw, included "some of Chicago's 
most notorious criminal characters." [131] As Shaw notes: 

Prior to Sidney's contact with the Burns Athletic Club his delin- 
quencies had been limited very largely to pilfering, burglary, and 
shoplifting. ... It was immediately following his association with 
this group and while in the company of some of its younger members 
that Sidney's first experience in the larceny of automobiles and holdup 
with a gun took place. [51, 232] 

Because he had no "vocational and leisure-time interests" and was 
not "incorporated" into any more or less permanent group, he 
easily accepted "the adult criminal pattern of this group." 
These criminals were heroes to Sidney. 

The three fellows that I went with lived in the neighborhood all 
their lives and they told me the history of many of these racketeers. 
They knew them all personally and of course I got to know them 
personally. Just knowing them made us feel like big shots and I 
longed to be able to carry a big forty-five automatic like they carried 
on their hip. My life had been lawless and I felt that some day to 


become a big gangster would be a fine thing for me. I wanted to be 
one tough guy. [51, 136] 

It is evident that this group of criminals became the reference 
group with which Sidney and his friends identified themselves. 

When he was 16 years old, he was sentenced to 20 years in 
prison for rape at the point of a gun. From Sidney's "own story" 
we gather that, until he knew that the police had been informed 
of this act, he thought of it as an exciting experience, as some- 
thing to brag about at the Burns Athletic Club. Shaw points out 
that this offense "was an integral part of his whole criminal- 
behavior pattern." [252] 

It is perhaps important to observe, also, that prior to the first rape 
episode in which this gang was involved a number of similar cases 
had occurred in the Chicago district. These cases were known to 
Sidney and his companions and had been the subject of discussion 
among them. ... It may be assumed that his attitudes toward women 
and sex behavior were defined through his experience with prosti- 
tutes and in the course of his conversations with other delinquents. 
He was never incorporated into a conventional group through which 
he might assimilate the conventional attitudes and moral values of 
society. For the most part, his contacts with conventional groups 
were not only casual and infrequent but essentially formal and external 
in character. [51, 233, italics ours] 

This does not mean, of course, that Sidney was ignorant of the 
norms of larger society concerning sex. But it does indicate that 
the norms of larger society were not his. Identification with the 
adult criminal group was for him a more potent determinant of 
behavior than mere knowledge of the norms of society. Without 
attempting to analyze all the important factors in this case, we can 
report Shaw's own conclusion after his study of the records of each 
member of the major gangs Sidney identified himself with: 

The foregoing records suggest that Sidney's delinquencies occurred 
as part of the activities of the play groups and gangs of which he was 
a member. It is clear that delinquency was an established tradition in 
these groups prior to Sidney's contact with them. [51, 41] 

In a more recent publication, Shaw has portrayed the individual 
cases of the five Martin brothers [521. Their social and economic 


examined the boys concluded that they could be properly classified 
as both physically and mentally normal. Brothers in Crime gives 
a detailed account of the deviant behavior and of the "settling 
down" of the five brothers both in verified objective terms and in 
the boys' "own stories." The general lines of the course of develop- 
ment of their psychological identifications and attitudes and the 
factors that contributed to their "settling down" in society at large 
are similar to those summarized briefly in the case of the Jack 
Roller. In short, they began their early childhood in play groups 
and embryonic gangs, psychologically identifying themselves with 
these spontaneously developed groups. 

The boys' mother was a devout church member. But as the 
boys became involved in the activities of their gangs, "they repu- 
diated all institutions which sought to enforce conformity to con- 
ventional standards of conduct." [140] The compellingness of 
group values or norms in shaping the brothers' lives was indicated 
by the "inability of the family, the school, the church, the juvenile 
court, and family case-work agencies to alter their conduct." [126] 
Through the efforts of their mother, teachers, social workers, and 
other adults the boys became quite familiar with the norms of con- 
ventional society. However, knowledge of these norms did not 
materially affect their identifications, attitudes, and behavior. The 
boys had clearly incorporated the values and norms of their gangs 
as their own. Consequently, the conflicting norms of society at 
large had little or no effect in regulating their behavior. 

They gravitated towards organic membership in these groups 
under the stress of basic deprivations and the denial of an inte- 
grated personal identity in home, school, church, and other conven- 
tional situations. They had to derive their main feelings of per- 
sonal status from membership in these play groups, embryonic or 
crystallized gangs. Their basic deprivations were relieved through 
the activities of these groups. Thus, when John Martin, the oldest 
brother who set the example for the others, 

. . . was approximately seven years of age, he became identified 
with one of the many flay groups in his community, a group com- 
posed of at least twelve boys ranging in age from five to twelve years. 
Their playgrounds were the alleys, streets, and railroad yards; their 
activities were largely spontaneous, random, and unsuper vised; simple 


forms of stealing were interspersed with nondeliquent activities with 
little realization of their moral implications. [52, 109, italics ours] 

The psychiatrist who examined the Martin brothers reports that 
they "differed in regard to personality traits." But "despite differ- 
ences in personality, physical stature, and intelligence, all of the 
brothers engaged in the same forms of delinquent conduct 
throughout the early periods of their careers." [325] It seems 
clear, therefore, that the similarity of their behavior in early years 
was due to their membership in similarly formed groups. In 
later adolescent years their individually deviant behavior differed 
according to the specific activities of the gang to which each, 
brother belonged. 

One of Shaw's generalizations based on keen observation should 
be of particular interest to any psychologist who wants to see the 
problems of personality with clear perspective. 

It is interesting to observe that the brothers who had the longest 
careers in delinquency were the ones who possessed personality traits 
which are usually regarded as being most desirable. John, Edward, 
James, and Michael are sociable, friendly, and loyal persons who 
adapt themselves readily to other individuals. Carl, on the other hand, 
possesses fewer of these traits, yet he continued in delinquency for a 
shorter period of time than did his brothers. It is suggested that 
perhaps socially desirable personality traits may be related to satisfac- 
tory adjustments in the delinquent group in the same manner in which 
they are related to adjustments in conventional groups. In short, 
they may be social assets in both situations. Conversely less desirable 
traits may complicate the process of adjustment in delinquent and in 
nondelinquent groups. [52, 31 3] 

It seems a tragic irony, in the case of the Martin brothers at least, 
that a less sociable, less friendly, and less loyal "personality" came 
as a blessing to save one of the brothers from the more prolonged 
indulgence in delinquent behavior of his more sociable brothers. 12 

12 For another example, see case 1 in fudge Bafar Foundation Studies No. 1 
(Boston, 1922). Throughout the complete report of this delinquent boy there are 
comments by various officials and examiners on his friendly personality. He is 
described as "thoroughly pleasant, responsive, smiling often" [26]; "fond of 
activity and fun-loving" [2#]; "friendly, and very cooperative, and frank in his 
discussion." [37a] This boy had nine formal complaints against him in three 
years' time. As he said, "You do lots of things to make others think you are a 
great fellow." [34] 


Shaw's observations of the family origins of gang members 
should be mentioned for they give further insight into the prob- 
lem of parent-youth conflict, the subsequent psychological drift- 
ing away from the family situation, and the establishment of new 
ego links. So far the gang members we have mentioned all came 
from slum areas. However, Shaw states that there are cases of 
youthful gang members who stem from "the highest income 
groups in the community." [101] Such cases also reflect the con- 
sequences of parent-youth friction due to the conflicting identifica- 
tions of children and their parents. As we have seen before, 
parents and boys of the new generation may have incorporated 
values or norms which represent either different or contradictory 
cultural patterns due in some instances to the rapid transition of 
the times. 

In each of the individual studies, we have seen how the boy 
very soon embarked once more on delinquent activities after he 
was let out of a detention home. In their work on delinquency 
areas in Chicago, Shaw and his collaborators [49] give significant 
hints concerning the effect of group formations in prolonging the 
deviant types of behavior of individual group members. In this 
provocative work, the authors systematically studied the relative 
contribution of different areas of the city to the total number of 
individuals brought to court. For our present problem, the results 
on "recidivism among male delinquents brought before the juve- 
nile court during 1900-1906 and 1917-1923" are important. For 
among other things, they reflect again the importance of group 
belongingness or group reference as a cause of the differential .rates 
of recidivism in various parts of the city. On the basis of their 
analysis, the authors conclude: 

It is clear from the foregoing material that the extent of recidivism 
is highest in the areas having the highest rate of individual delinquents 
and that this fact explains the disproportionately high rate of delin- 
quency cases in these areas. This finding suggests that the factors 
contributing to delinquency in these areas of concentration tend also 
to give rise to recidivism by increasing both the proportion of delin- 
quents who become recidivists and the number of times the recidivists 
appear in court. [49, 186] 


In a more recent work, Shaw and McKay [53], using similar 
statistics collected from 1927 to 1933, reach the same conclusion. 

From these findings and other material on gangs already cited, 
it is clear that continued gang membership is one of the chief 
factors in the relatively high rate of recidivism in these areas. 
There is concrete evidence that, if young delinquents after their 
release from prison could be placed in informal groups where their 
interests could be directed along other channels and where they 
could feel they were active participants, the rate of recidivism 
would decrease. Referring to such attempts undertaken under 
the supervision of Clifford Shaw in certain Chicago areas, Martin 
[30] writes: 

Shaw believes it [recidivism] is caused partially by the tendency of 
an ex-convict's community to shun him when he comes out of prison. 
Barred this contact with "respectable" people, the ex-con is forced to 
seek association with criminals. Soon he will go back to prison. The 
Area Project attempts to reintegrate ex-cons into their communities. 
The parolees handled by the Russell Square Committee range from 
youngsters of, say, fourteen years, locked up for the first time, to men 
of fifty with long criminal records. Of forty-seven parolees dealt with, 
only one has been returned to prison for parole violation. (The parole 
agent caught him drunk.) [30] 

In this connection, the practical remarks contained in a recent 
memorandum from Shaw to the board of directors of the Chicago 
Area Project are pertinent. [54] They imply the psychological fact 
that the direction of an individual's behavior is not affected in a 
major way unless and until he becomes ego-involved in social 
situations. Shaw observed: 

Attempts to produce these changes for the community by means of 
ready-made institutions and programs planned, developed, financed, 
and managed by persons outside the community are not likely to meet 
with any more success in the future than they have in the past. This 
procedure is psychologically unsound because it places the residents 
of the community in an inferior position and implies serious reserva- 
tions with regard to their capacities and their interest in their own 
welfare. What is equally important is the fact that it neglects the 
greatest of all assets in any community, namely the talents, energies, 
and other human resources of the people themselves. For these 


reasons, these superimposed programs and institutions, while perhaps 
providing temporary aid to individuals and families, are not likely to 
exercise any deep and lasting influence in the social character of the 
community. They are related to the community only in the most 
superficial manner and thus have not appreciably reduced the volume 
of truancy, delinquency, and crime. What is necessary, we believe, is 
the organization and encouragement of social self-help on a coopera- 
tive basis. [54, 2] 


The conclusions reached on the basis of the material so far 
reviewed are further confirmed by the more psychological analysis 
of Healy and Bronner [19]. In their study of many delinquent 
cases who were paired with nondelinquents, die authors investi- 
gate from all possible angles the factors contributing to deviant 
types of behavior. Without denying in the least the contribution 
of other variables, we shall call attention to the impact of group 
contact in producing individual delinquency. We repeat that our 
concern throughout this chapter has been the group determination 
of this consequential type of behavior. For this throws light on 
group behavior in general. We have not been interested in indi- 
vidual or group delinquency as such. 

The chain of causation between basic urges, desires, and wishes 
on the one hand, and delinquency on the other, runs clear through 
Healy and Bronner's impressive work. The authors have clearly 
diagrammed this chain in Figure 3. 18 We see that basic urges, 
desires, and wishes may be satisfied through "socially acceptable 
activities" in society whatever the particular norms of the particu- 
lar society may be. If they are not satisfied, if they are hindered 
by economic or other situational circumstances, "feelings of inade- 
quacy, deprivations, and thwartings" arise. These in turn are 
followed by urges for substitute satisfactions. These urges for 
substitute satisfactions need not necessarily express themselves in 
delinquent behavior. Between these urges and actual participation 
in delinquent activity there is the step of "acceptance of ideas of 
delinquency." In the authors' words: 

18 Reproduced from [19, 4] by permission. 



Now what form substitutive activities will take, whether or not 
they will be antisocial, depends partly on external circumstances, but 
mainly upon the acceptance of certain ideas. [19, 7] 

The process of acceptance is further elaborated in such formula- 

Very few indeed, if any, enter into delinquency as the result of a 
new born impulse, without previously having had thought about it. 



FIG. 3. Diagram showing the development of delinquent behavior. The general 
life stream of feelings and activities. 

There is almost universally some period of incubation of such ideas, 
generally not thought out to definite conclusions concerning action, 
but still recurring as part of the mental content. An educative or 
assimilative process has been going on, usually under the stimulus of 
some environmental source or sources, whereby the individual learns 
about delinquency, its forms and techniques, as he might become 
informed or educated about f we will say, tree climbing. [19, 68, italics 

The impact of group factors in the "acceptance of ideas of 
delinquency" is stressed time and again in different connections by 
Healy and Bronner. For example, they state that "litdc delin- 
quency is engaged in without companionship or gang connections" 
[63, italics ours] And again, "this particular educative process 
generally began with information received from youthful com- 
rades two were taught by older criminals." [66] 


In our opinion, the process of acceptance of ideas or norms of 
delinquency through social contacts will gain clarity and func- 
tional usefulness if it is conceptualized in terms of identifications 
in actual groups or ego-involvements in relation to certain refer- 
ence groups in general and membership groups in particular. 
Once identification takes place, whatever the size of the group 
may be, essentially similar psychological consequences may be 
expected. Psychologically, it makes a great deal of difference 
whether praise or ridicule comes from an indifferent group or a 
group in which we are strongly ego-involved. Once the norms of 
a delinquent group or any other group are accepted, once identi- 
fication with a group takes place, the individual is not necessarily 
content merely to hold the attitudes of the group or to indulge in 
prescribed activities. He may spontaneously praise the attitudes, 
spontaneously engage in new forms of behavior consistent with 
the group line. 

The material gathered by Healy and Bronner indicates clearly 
the way a boy may become identified with a group and the 
psychological consequences of this identification. 

A boy, for example, feeling himself inadequate in other relation- 
ships finds himself accepted and gains recognition with a gang if he 
takes up with the suggestions they give him of stealing with or for 
them. [19, 8] 

They mention in passing the case of a delinquent boy who "previ- 
ously was effeminate or feminized." The boy gave the rationale 
of his deviant behavior. 

They thought I was no good so I went out to show a cockeyed 
world that I was a regular guy. [19, 134] 

Although the authors do not specify it, the "cockeyed world" the 
boy referred to is undoubtedly the reference group whose ridicule 
at last drove him to such action, and in relation to which he 
wanted to excel as a "regular guy." 

In Shaw's account of the Martin brothers, we noted that the 
brothers who engaged in delinquent activities the longest Were 
the most sociable friendly ones. In this connection, it is interesting 
to note that Healy and Bronner found that "gregariousness" or 


"sociability" is clearly more prevalent among the delinquents than 
among the individuals used as controls. The greater sociability of 
delinquents may be, at least in part, a product of their striving to 
anchor themselves in a social setting when social status is denied 
them by already established groups. The study of Healy and 
Bronner clearly suggests the psychological function served by the 
opportunity to anchor one's self in a definite group, even though 
it may be a delinquent one. For example: 

Under certain circumstances it may be healthier and more normal 
to join in with the activities and imbibe the ideas of a delinquent 
crowd than to be a withdrawing, soft, effeminate "mother's boy" or, 
as in instances already mentioned, to mope at home and develop an 
abnormal phantasy life. [19, 136] 


Some representative data already presented have demonstrated 
the effects of group situations on individuals. We have seen how 
ego-attitudes may be structured or modified in group situations in 
a lasting or a temporary way. During the past two decades, these 
findings have been amply verified on the psychological level. We 
shall limit our discussion here to a brief summary of a few investi- 
gations. All of them compel us to call attention once more to the 
convergence of sociological and psychological formulations. They 
prove that there cannot be two kinds of psychologies of collective 
behavior: the psychology of the individual in group situations is 
valid social psychology, and his social psychology is valid individual 

Since social interaction is possible only when individuals in a 
situation are able to grasp reciprocal relationships (the point of 
view of others as well as their own) and when certain rules or 
norms established as a consequence of human interaction in the 
past or emerging in the actual situation are observed, the studies of 
Piaget and his associates, carried out in the 1920's are especially 
impressive. These investigations conclusively elucidate the genetic 
development and properties of group interactions and furnish an 
unique crucible of the psychology of group interaction, the incor- 


poration of social norms in the individual, and their subsequent 
effects on behavior. 

Piaget studied the successive stages of development of (1) the 
practice of rules and (2) the consciousness of rules. Since his 
results show that development runs parallel in both respects, we 
shall not make a special point of presenting his results separately 
and shall mention only those findings most relevant to our dis- 
cussion. He specifically examined the development of the indi- 
vidual's morality from the comparatively early years of childhood 
almost up to puberty. As he puts it, "All morality consists in a 
system of rules, and the essence of all morality is to be sought for 
in the respect which the individual acquires for these rules." [45,7] 
After calling attention to this general fact, Piaget starts with a 
detailed study of "the rules of the game" as played among age 
mates. These "rules of the game" exemplified by the game of 
marbles, are among the first rules grasped by the developing child. 

During the first years of his life (in the motor stage) the child 
cannot really participate in a play situation, let alone in more 
developed levels of group participation. This inability of the very 
young child to share collective activity of the simplest sort is due 
to the fact that his ego is not sufficiently differentiated for him to 
distinguish between what is his own desire and what is external 
to him. He cannot yet separate fantasy and fact. In short, he 
cannot recognize his ever-changing mercurial subjectivity as such. 
Hence, he cannot consistently follow a conversation, a game, or 
any social activity involving a give-and-take type of relationship. 
As he grows older, certain rules (norms) are imposed on him by 
parents, older boys and girls, or other grown-ups. He is made to 
abide by these rules in the daily routine of life. But even though 
he abides by them, for the child around 5 or 6 years of age, rules 
or norms have not yet become an integrated part of his psychology. 
To him, the rules or norms he is made to follow are absolute, made 
in an unchangeable way by grown-ups. Even though he abides 
by them because of the sheer constraint and authority exerted by 
his elders, he easily lapses to the ever-changing flux of his desires 
and fantasy when he is not under the grip of external authority. 
For these externally imposed rules or norms have not yet become 
his own rules or norms. 


Only after further development (around the age of 7-8 in the 
case of Piaget's children) is the child mature enough to grasp 
consistently the points of view of others, to interact reciprocally 
and to co-operate in play and other activities with his equals (age 
mates). As a consequence of age-mate group interactions and 
co-operations, the group rules or norms become his own norms. 
In this process he ceases to consider them as the absolute and 
immutable dictates of grown-ups. In the course of the develop- 
ment of participation in age-mate activities (around the age of 
11-12 in Piaget's cases), children reach the stage where they col- 
lectively and spontaneously evolve and codify appropriate norms 
for the situation at hand. 

These spontaneously emerging norms in collective age-mate 
activities are among the first norms that boys or girls accept, re- 
spect, and abide by as their own. At this point the experience and 
behavior of co-operation and autonomy as contrasted to authority 
and heteronomy is first indicated. In Piaget's words: 

From the moment that children really begin to submit to rules and 
to apply them in a spirit of genuine cooperation, they acquire a new 
conception of these rules. Rules become something that can be 
changed if it is agreed that they should be, for the truth of a rule docs 
not rest on tradition but on mutual agreement and reciprocity. [89] 
Henceforward, he will not only discover the boundaries that separate 
his self from the other person, but will learn to understand the other 
person and be understood by him. So that cooperation is really a 
factor in the creation of personality, if by personality we mean, not 
the unconscious self of childish egocentrism, but the self that takes 
up its stand on the norms of reciprocity and objective discussion, and 
knows how to submit to these in order to make itself respected. . . . 
Cooperation being the source of personality, rules cease, in accordance 
with the same principle, to be external. They become both the con- 
stitutive factors of personality and its fruit, in accordance with the 
circular process so frequently exemplified in the course of mental 
development. In this way autonomy succeeds heteronomy. [45, 90] 

Likewise, with the development of co-operative group activities, 
the unilateral respect and awe felt towards grown-ups and the 
conforming behavior of early childhood owing to the pressure of 
external authority alone give way to feelings of mutual respect 


and "inner responsibility ." These conclusions based on rich con- 
crete data and so briefly, summarized here, are full of implications 
concerning the effects of group situations in determining an indi- 
vidual's personal values and loyalties. They substantiate on a more 
refined level of psychological analysis the evidence that emerged 
from the gang studies carried out at approximately the same period 
in a different country. (See pp. 289-304.) 

Piaget considers the social and practical implications of his 
findings in the final section of his study. The upshot of his bril- 
liant discussion is that the individual can only develop a sense of 
the reciprocal nature of real human relationships through partici- 
pation in group activities. Only through such co-operative par- 
ticipation does he come to accept group norms as his own and to 
develop his identification, loyalty, and iqner responsibility towards 
them. If such co-operative participation is lacking, the individual 
considers the norms imposed on him by sheer authority as nui- 
sances to be evaded whenever possible. Only as an outcome of 
co-operation in group situations with equals do "the infantile traits 
that mark the conformist spirit make place for the features that 
are the outcome of cooperation," [341] "Whence the decline of 
unilateral respect and the primacy of personal judgment. But in 
consequence of this, cooperation suppresses both egocentrism and 
moral realism, and thus achieves an interiorization of rules." [411] 
At the end, Piaget makes explicit the implications of his results: 
"It is obvious that our results are as unfavourable to the method of 
authority as to purely individualistic methods." Piaget specifically 
criticized the authoritarian sociology of Durkheim and its educa- 
tional deductions. 

Unfortunately, under the influence of a "pre-notion," hard to 
account for in a sociologist, and especially in one so methodical, 
Durkheim thinks of children as knowing no other society than adult 
society or the society created by adults (schools), so that he entirely 
ignores the existence of spontaneously formed children's societies, and 
of the facts relating to mutual respect. Consequently, elastic though 
Durkheim's pedagogy may be in principle, it simply leads, for lack of 
being sufficiently informed on the subject of child sociology, to a 
defence of the methods of authority. [45, 358 f.] 


Unlike psychologists who complacently stop after uttering their 
conclusions on the basis of restricted "closed" situations, Piaget 
anxiously looks ahead to see if his conclusions hold in concrete 

For, after all, it is one thing to prove that cooperation in the play 
and spontaneous social life of children brings about certain moral 
effects, and another to establish the fact that this cooperation can be 
universally applied as a method of education. This last point is one 
which only experimental education can settle. Educational experi- 
ment, on condition that it be scientifically controlled, is certainly more 
instructive for psychology than any amount of laboratory experiments, 
and because of this experimental pedagogy might perhaps be incor- 
porated into the body of the psychosociological disciplines. [45, 413 f.] 

The results of educational processes which give an opportunity 
for free co-operation among equals in diverse activities and which 
encourage initiative in positive group undertakings are described 
in many reports by progressive educators. An outstanding illus- 
tration of the emergent effects of democratically organized collec- 
tive training on individuals is seen in Makarenko's far-reaching 
work [6]. In 1920, at a time when famine and civil war were still 
ravaging the Soviet Union, Makarenko started the Gorki Colony, 
a school devoted to the reforming and training of juvenile delin- 
quents. The first six students who arrived at the colony were, for 
example, youngsters who had committed quite serious offenses. 
"Two of them had been found guilty of larcenies, four of armed 
burglaries. In the institution they acted as a unit. . . . They as- 
sumed an attitude of indifference to the rules or to the staff." [38] 

After Makarenko had once proved to the youngsters that he 
could be tough too, he devoted his energies to the creation of a 
common life in which administration, teachers, and students alike 
participated. To this end, they all shared in all activities and 
hardships and in any rewards that came as a consequence of 
common effort. In Makarenko's words: "In our nervewracking 
poverty there was one good feature all of us, teachers and pupils, 
were hungry and poor alike." The report continues: "Thus in 
the process of living together, a common formula was being 
shaped. Events molded both director and pupils, forming the 


rudiments of a community interest." [6, 39] In this collective 
process of working and living together, which effectively trans- 
formed the attitudes of the participating individuals, stealing, 
drinking, and gambling which were common when the institution 
started, were successfully eliminated. Once the collective trend of 
the colony took definite shape, all such objectionable behavior was 
eliminated, not through the use of punishments, but by putting the 
matter to the students themselves and securing their active par- 
ticipation. The positive results emerging in the Gorki Colony 
were carried to other such institutions. In these projects the stu- 
dents of the Gorki Colony played no small part. From the origi- 
nal colony and another carried to its same level by the Gorki 
teachers and students, three thousand boys and girls graduated. 
Many of them attained leading positions in industry, the arts, and 
sciences. When they assumed responsible work in society at large, 
they were not treated as exconvicts or "reformed" boys, but as 
full-fledged citizens. 

It may be safe to conclude that the success of this educational 
experiment in the Soviet Union in transforming the whole life 
patterns of unfortunate deviant boys and girls into highly useful 
citizens is due to the fact that the conception and character of the 
experiment fit in with and, in fact, were encouraged by the whole 
social system. During the first decade of the century, exponents of 
progressive education in many countries spread their enthusiasm 
for creating an ideal society through the education of new genera- 
tions. And, when we consider the Gorki Colony experiment in 
the light of similar undertakings in capitalist countries, when we 
relate it to the disillusionment expressed by many progressive 
educators in Europe and America, its implications become even 
more striking. The fate of so many experiments in progressive 
education tends to show that, in highly differentiated Western 
societies where individuals must sooner or later face groups with 
contradictory conflicting functions and values, they are bound to 
be torn in different directions with inevitable psychological con- 
sequences. Before jumping to any conclusions about the definite 
effects of a particular group on its individual members, it therefore 
becomes necessary to investigate at the same time the question of 
whether or not the groups which an individual sooner or later 


will face in a major way are integrated in function and values. 
For groups cannot be taken as closed systems, especially today. 
The values and directions shaped in one group have serious conse- 
quences in the lives of an individual member if they run counter 
to those of other groups which he is subsequently bound to en- 
counter. It is not difficult to find cases of antagonistic groups in 
which the degree of in-group solidarity, sympathy and co-opera- 
tion may be proportional to the prejudices, intolerance, and enmity 
exhibited towards the members of out-groups. For example, the 
utmost degree of consideration, democracy, and good will ex- 
hibited within the inner bounds of an exclusive club or a Junior 
League need not be bestowed on out-group persons, especially if 
the persons in question are members of groups standing at some 
distance from the club's particular social hierarchy. 

Other relevant experimental and research studies of groups have 
been reported which provide substantial verification of the effects 
of group situations on the individual member's identifications and 
ego relationships, on the structural properties of groups, and on the 
effects of differential group identifications. Here we can mention 
only a few representative studies, among which should be included 
the work of Moreno and his associates. Before 1925, Moreno 
found that individuals assigned in a group to improvise "certain 
attitudes for typical situations" often committed "the most bewil- 
dering acts, although in the realm of fiction, which seem unrelated 
to their individual selves when we saw them in daily life." [33, 13] 
In 1934, Moreno [35] summarized a considerable body of research 
chiefly concerned with interpersonal relationships within various 
groups. For example, by asking every child from kindergarten 
through the eighth grade in a public school to choose seat mates, 
Moreno constructed "sociograms" showing such social relations 
within each class. He found a progressive development and differ- 
entiation in these children's groups. In kindergarten and the first 
and second grades, children were "seldom sufficiently certain 
whom to choose!' [35, 54, italics ours] After about the fourth 
grade, intragroup relationships were more complex, suggesting 
that children develop to "exchange emotions readily and freely 
form partnerships and secret associations." [35, 54] With the 
development of "cooperative group action," with the "increased 


differentiation" of children's groups, a "cleavage" from adults 
occurs, as evidenced by "the declining insight of adults" into the 
relationships within children's groups. [35, 50] Only after recip- 
rocal relationships developed among children did they accurately 
practice status distinctions on the basis of grown-up norms. For 
example, after about the fourth grade "the percentage of hetero- 
sexual attractions drops very low." [35, 61] And, at about the 
same time, choices were made more frequently in terms of the 
children's own nationality and color groups with simultaneous 
rejection of outside groups as prescribed by grown-up norms. 
"This phenomenon could not be observed in the pre-school groups 
nor in the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grades although the percentage of 
members of different nationalities was about the same." [35, 61] 
The effects of relatively unified groups as contrasted to relatively 
divided groups are shown in Moreno's study of the New York 
State Training School for Girls. The standard of conduct and 
morale of the group and the number of runaways and requests for 
transfers varied with the degree of interest in the group. 

Moreno and his associates have developed ingenious devices, 
such as the sociogram, and statistical refinements which facilitate 
the study of groups. [37] Considerable research has been stimu- 
lated. To take a recent example, Bronfenbrenner [10] essentially 
repeated Moreno's studies of school children. One of the signifi- 
cant findings of this study was that the shift in an individual's 
status "must be interpreted not only in terms of change in indi- 
vidual, social, or psychological adjustment, but also in terms of 
group developmental trends." [76] 

However, the theoretical background presented by Moreno puts 
the psychologist in the puzzling situation of studying empirical 
data along with theoretical formulations mixed with mystic no- 
tions. For example, in 1943 Moreno [36] wrote: "I have had the 
good fortune to develop three ideas. The first idea, a study of the 
godhead, has remained cryptic and misapprehended. The second, 
a study of man called psychodrama, has aroused some hope that 
man can train his spontaneity to overcome many of his short- 
comings. My third idea, the study of society called sociometry, 
has given the greatest promise that a measure can be developed 
for a deeper understanding of society and a key to the treatment 


of its ills. Many of my friends consider these three ideas one 
apart from the other. In my own mind, however, all three ideas 
are of one piece. One has developed out of the other." [299] The 
"study of the godhead" is expressed in The Words of the Father 
[34], a book published in 1941 and listed as one of the "Basic 
Works of J. L. Moreno" in Sociometry. The preface and com- 
mentary of the book are provided by Moreno who points out 
that "on the title page of this book there is a vacant place: there 
is no author's name there." [316] "The name of the author is 
given in the title itself in The Words of the Father. [317] As 
Moreno points out in the beginning of his preface "This is an 
extraordinary book." [vii] He continues: 

It is unique because of its premise. Even before a line of it is 
read before it is weighted as to its content its premise is: these 
are God's own words, [vii] . . . God Himself, not only speaks but 
is shown acting, creating, ruling and judging. God is present. He 
creates His own universe. He analyzes His own universe. He is in 
direct communication with every atom of the universe, [ix] ... It 
would seem that the idea of God has found in this book a final and 
total expression, [x] . . . It is a consolation that the message of the 
Father comes to the world at this time. There has never been a 
moment when a word of encouragement was more welcome, [xxi] 

God's pronouncements cover over 100 pages. The first reads: 






Such prophetic and ecstatic statements are hardly acceptable to 
the psychologist. 

In 1926, the Wawokiye Camp Research Project [40], a study in 
"experimental sociology," began under the direction of W. I. 
Newstetter of Western Reserve University, Designed to gain 
"generalized knowledge of the primary group and the means for 
its study" [93], this long-range study, in the words of its director, 
"provides devastating evidence that interactions (social behavior) 


are not the result of measurable 'traits.' " [104] During the early 
period of the project (1926-28), the approach was slanted chiefly 
towards the diagnosis and therapeutics of the individual in social 
situations. "The value of adjustment through group association 
was demonstrated by practical results." \vt\ However, research 
results were not so satisfactory. "The measures of these supposed 
traits weighted in some way were intended to yield a score which 
was taken as an index of social adjustment. This may be a suitable 
approach for the interpretation of individual reactions, but has 
been unfruitful as the basis for interpreting social behavior." [93 /.] 

As a result, the orientation turned toward a study of the group 
itself as a step forward in achieving a "situational approach." 
From 1930 to 1933, two five-week camp periods were held each 
summer. About thirty boys, most of them problem cases, attended 
each session. Camp life was more or less unplanned, activity and 
direction generating chiefly from the boys themselves. Among 
the findings relevant to our discussion were the measurements of 
status based on weekly reports of preference for companions. By 
correlating these indices of group status, it was found that each 
group had a more or less characteristic pattern of stability in status 
relationships from week to week. 

An attempt to discern what sort of behavior is directly related to 
acceptance by the group was undertaken by Newcomb. [40, 66-92] 
As a result of considerable previous experience, cordial and an- 
tagonistic responses were chosen as being most inclusive and re- 
lated to the problem. Observation of free groupings was recorded 
on a nine-point scale with considerable reliability. The principal 
finding of this observation was that cordiality received was sig- 
nificantly related to group status, while cordiality (or antagonism) 
given bore no significant relation to group status. Attempts to 
relate ascendance-submission, volubility of expression, and atten- 
tion to counselors given by a member to his status revealed no 
relationship between the measures, although ascendance-submis- 
sion received was related to group status. "Our principle conclu- 
sion, then, is a methodological or technical one. Significant and 
reliable measures involving interactions of individuals can be ob- 
tained from behavior observations, if these interactions are not 
assumed to flow from traits of individuals." [92] 


Another valuable series of studies stems from Lewin and his 
students. In one of their earlier experiments, Lewin and Lippitt 
[25, 27] undertook to study under relatively controlled conditions 
the effects of democratic and autocratic leadership and procedure 
upon "the unity or division of the group structure pattern" of two 
similarly composed groups of children performing the same activ- 
ity (mask making). [27, 31] An analysis of extensive records 
showed that the unity of the club with autocratic leadership was 
less stable than that with democratic leadership. For the present 
discussion, comparative results which were taken as indices of 
"personal ego involvement versus group goal involvement" are 
highly relevant. [33] For example, of the first-person pronouns 
used by the autocratic group, only 18 per cent were plural (we, us, 
ours) as compared to 36 per cent used by the democratic group. 
After the groups had functioned for some time, members were 
asked to vote as to whether or not the meetings should be con- 
tinued. All of the autocratic-group members voted to stop, while 
four of the five democratic-group members wanted to continue. 
At the same time, the groups voted on how to dispose of the prod- 
ucts of their activities. All of the democratic-group members 
suggested group disposal of one or more of the masks, while the 
autocratic group members each claimed his own work. 

Such examples indicate that members of the group more or less 
dominated by the leader were less involved with their group than 
were members of the group in which co-operative relationships 
among leader and members were fostered. But the distinction 
made between "ego involvement" and "group goal involvement" 
seems unnecessary. When one participates as a member of a 
group, may he not become personally involved with the group, its 
activities, its goals ? Or, when one identifies with the group, may 
not its goals, its rules, its norms become his? Lewin and Lippitt 
comment in connection with these groups of boys: "In spite of the 
greater spontaneity of expression in the D-situation, the data indi- 
cated that the A-members were more frequently observed to be in 
an overlapping situation where an individual goal conflicted with 
a group goal and resulted in the member leaving the field of club 
work." [27, 33] It would seem possible that one reason the auto- 
cratic-group member was more often in conflict was that the group 


goal was not his goal, that is, he was less ego-involved than the 
democratic-group member. Conversely, one factor accounting for 
"greater spontaneity" of democratic-group members would seem 
to be greater identification with the group, that is, greater ego- 

Without attempting to summarize the many interesting and 
relevant findings in this and other studies of Lewin and his stu- 
dents, their substantiation of the sociological material on the differ- 
ential behavior of members toward in-group and out-group can 
be mentioned. In the study just cited, "about twice as many social 
interactions, per units of interaction possibility, occurred between 
in-group members as between out-group members." [27, 33] In a 
further study by Lewin, Lippitt, and White [26], fights, reminis- 
cent of "gang wars," developed spontaneously between clubs on 
two different occasions. One fight occurred between two demo- 
cratic clubs; the other occurred between a democratic and a 
lalsscz faire group, where the leader exerted little pressure on the 


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In our review of experiments and controlled investigations 
(ch. 6), we saw how various kinds of ego-involvements entered 
in to shape or modify experience and behavior. We saw how an 
individual identified himself with certain occupational or status 
groups, how his role as a member of a class was related to affec- 
tively toned attitudes. We found that in some instances experi- 
ence and behavior were modified by ego-involvements which 
resulted from the acceptance of established norms and values, 
whereas some ego-involvements resulted from the momentary 
demands of the actual experimental situation in which the indi- 
vidual found himself. 

The concept of ego-Involvement is, of course, not a mere artifact 
created to account for artificial laboratory situations or for the facts 
obtained in other controlled investigations. Indeed, the laboratory 
experiments and other investigations came sometime after obser- 
vations of concrete social situations had suggested the usefulness 
and validity of the concept. [4, 5, 41] Equipped with a knowledge 
of how the ego develops in the child, how it is re-formed in ado- 
lescence, how it is constituted and how it affects behavior in con- 
trolled laboratory situations, we now have some solid basis from 
which to view ego-involved activities as they can be seen in con- 
crete social situations. 

We can consider only a scattered few of the thousands of ex- 
amples one might choose for analysis. We shall proceed from 
relatively simple to more complicated situations. We repeat again 
that the basic psychological principles are the same, whether they 
are demonstrated in laboratory experiments, controlled investiga- 
tions, simple or complicated situations of everyday life. 

"The apparel oft proclaims the man! 9 Whatever the origin or 



origins of clothes, whatever purposes they serve in different cli- 
mates, there is little doubt that one of their chief functions is to 
extend the "self of the wearer, to enhance his ego, to display his 
status. Whether it is the simple necklace of the Samoan, the girdle 
of the Javanese, the earrings of the Siberian Eskimo, the tweed 
coat of the American college man, or the latest lounging robe 
exhibited at a fashion show in contemporary Russia, men and 
women reveal the fact that they are concerned about the clothes 
they wear, the impression clothes make on themselves and others. 
This is true, of course, only in a relative sense. A destitute person, 
suffering from the ravages of war, depression, or other circum- 
stances, will be eager enough to get any clothes that satisfy his 
functional needs. Over a hundred years ago, Carlyle, in his pro- 
test against conventions, Sartor Resartus [8], wrote: 

Perhaps not once in a lifetime does it occur to your ordinary biped, 
of any country or generation, be he gold-mantled Prince or russet- 
jerkined Peasant, that his Vestments and his Self are not one and 
indivisible; that he is naked, without vestments, till he buy or steal 
such, and by fore thought sew and button them. [8, 40] 

Veblen, in his penetrating Theory of the Leisure Class [43], points 
out that 

No one finds difficulty in assenting to the commonplace that the 
greater part of the expenditure incurred by all classes for apparel is 
incurred for the sake of a respectable appearance* rather than for the 
protection of the person. [43, 767 /.] 

When Hurlock asked people the question: "Is your feeling of self- 
confidence increased by being well and appropriately dressed?" 
99 per cent of the women and 94 per cent of the men said 
"Yes." [19, 46] 

In his well-known book, The Psychology of Clothes [14], Flugel 
states that the great majority of authorities "unhesitatingly re- 
garded decoration as the motive that led, in the first place, to the 
adoption of clothing." [17] 

The essential purpose of decoration is to beautify the bodily appear- 
ance, so as to attract the admiring glances of others and fortify one's 
self-esteem. [14, 20] 


This self-esteem, ego-enhancement, or ego-gratification can, of 
course, be accomplished in a number of different ways, as Flugel 
indicates. The most obvious example is the function clothes serve 
as an indicator of rank in military or religious circles. And in 
ordinary civilian life clothes provide one of the most concrete 
expressions of status, especially in those areas of life where status 
is proportional to the things money can buy. Veblen showed how 
clothes were used by members of the upper class to demonstrate 
conspicuous waste and conspicuous leisure. Flugel notes that 

One woman can seriously hurt another, even to the point of making 
a permanent enemy of her, by being better or more fashionably 
dressed upon some significant occasion. As long as individuality is 
permitted, women struggle with one another for wearing the "latest" 
or most costly frocks. The snobbery of wealth may even take a 
purely quantitative form, and it may and often does become a point 
of honour to wear a different dress each day (or several different 
dresses each day, according to the varying occasions of morning, 
afternoon, and night). [14, 114] 

Another way in which clothes serve to enhance the ego is what 
Flugel calls the "extension of the bodily self." A person can 
increase his apparent size, cover up certain physical defects or dis- 
proportions, conform more to current norms of beauty by various 
tricks of dressing. Thus we find today the padded shoulders for 
both men's and women's garments, padded or supported busts and 
tight girdles that give women more alluring figures. In extreme 
cases, we have the long coronation robes of kings and queens, the 
fancy headdress of the Indian chief, the top hat for the gentleman's 
evening wear, and the long train of his lady all of these serve the 
function of distinguishing the individual from others. 

We sec ourselves in the movies. It has been pointed out many 
times that the enormous appeal of motion pictures is due in no 
small part to the many vicarious satisfactions they provide. By 
projecting ourselves into the characters and situations, we can 
escape momentarily from humdrum lives, worries, and cares, the 
limits imposed upon us by our incomes, our lack of opportunity, 
our mediocrity in appearance, ability, or talents. 

The extent to which this ego-involvement occurs has been 
recently demonstrated by studies of the tastes and preferences of 


movie-goers. The upshot of this research is that individuals choose 
as their favorite movie stars people with whom they can most 
easily identify themselves persons of the same sex, of comparable 
age, and who tend to be cast in roles that represent a person of 
their income group. Here is a brief summary of the findings, 
taken from a report (1941) on audience research: [2] 

Most stars do not gain support equally from all groups of theater- 
goers, but appeal particularly to certain segments of the population. 
Naturally, the variation is greater in the case of some stars than in 
others. But the star who is equally popular with both sexes, all age- 
groups, all income levels, and in all parts of the country, is the rare 
exception rather than the rule. 

Theatergoers have a tendency to project themselves into the situa- 
tion portrayed on the screen, to imagine themselves in the place of the 
star, or (perhaps subconsciously) to pretend they are the star. 

Obviously, it is easier to imagine yourself in Mickey Rooney's shoes 
if you are a boy of seventeen than if you are a middle-aged housewife. 
Broadly speaking, that is why Rooney is overwhelmingly more popu- 
lar with boys of his own age than with any other group of the 

Many other instances point to the importance of self -identification 
as a factor in determining marquee values. For example, Judy Gar- 
land, Deanna Durbin and Linda Darnell are most popular with girls 
of their own age. Muni is strongest with men over thirty-one, as are 
also Lionel Barrymore, William Powell and Edward Arnold. May 
Robson is particularly popular with elderly females. Joan Crawford, 
Miriam Hopkins, Irene Dunne, Claudette Colbert and Norma Shearer 
are most popular with women over thirty. 

Seventy-eight per cent of the female stars are more popular with 
women than with men. ... By the same token 60 per cent of the 
male stars are more popular with men than with women. The first 
thirteen stars, as ranked by men, are all male. 

This phenomenon of self -identification can be seen at work in other 
fields. For example: The old theory that the best way to interest 
women in an advertisement is to show a picture of a man, or the 
best way to interest a man is to show a picture of a woman, has no 
real foundation in fact. The best way to attract women is to have 
women in the advertisement. The best way to attract men is by 
having men, or men and women. [2, 14 /.] 


Advertising. The whole "psychology of advertising" can be 
regarded as an attempt on the part of the advertiser to identify 
the consumer's self-interest with a particular product. And the 
interest of the consumers appealed to are in no small part com- 
posed of ego-involving values. One of the most brilliant and 
successful advertisers in the United States has said that "the whole 
secret of advertising is to get under a person's skin," to get a 
person so interested in and involved with a product that he cannot 
rest content until he buys it. Anyone familiar with the plethora 
of appeals made to the public in most countries where competition 
for business and profits is keen, can, on a moment's reflection, 
think of dozens of examples of the advertiser's attempt to protect, 
sustain, and enhance his ego. Our involvement with our bodily 
appearance or its characteristics is demonstrated by the phenome- 
nal success of such advertisements as those which tell us to buy 
a certain mouthwash to avoid "halitosis" or a certain soap to avoid 
"body odor." Our identification with norms that determine status 
is fully recognized and exploited by those who imply that, if we 
use or buy their products, we will be in the same class as the distin- 
guished man or the aristocratic woman shown in the illustration. 
The manufacturer of a relatively expensive automobile displays a 
picture of a car with a middle-aged man and woman in it and 
underneath there is the bold caption, "Here we are being envied"; 
a hand-lotion concern uses the ad, "Makes working hands look 
like leisure hands." 

Other skillful propagandists as well as advertising experts are 
well aware of the various attitudes which channel into a person's 
ego. Analyses of different propaganda campaigns in terms of their 
effectiveness in arousing ego-involvement would be rewarding. 

What's in a name? * Although most of us tend to take our 
names for granted, don't think much about them, still, for nearly 
all of us, there are occasional instances when we become aware of 
how much a part of us our names have become. We do not always 
act with complete neutrality when we see our names misspelled, 

1 This discussion of names is largely based on Robert Holt's Studies in the 
Psychology of Names [18]. This unpublished work is the most thorough, well- 
documented, and systematic treatment of the subject that has come to our 


we are flattered when old and casual acquaintances remember 
our names, we are likely to feel hurt if someone we think should 
know our name has forgotten it, we tend to pass on our names to 
our children, we sometimes scrawl our names in public places or 
on historic shrines. The vanity of certain wealthy men is exploited 
by the trustees of universities, hospitals, and similar institutions 
who promise that the man's name will be perpetuated in a build- 
ing or some other memorial if he contributes funds to the institu- 
tion. The good salesman and the good politician make it one of 
their first rules to flatter their customers and voters by remember- 
ing their names. We saw in chapter 7 how the small child learns 
that his name is a vehicle around which certain definite things 
happen and with which he identifies certain values and experi- 
ences. In interviews with a great variety of people, Holt found 
that the overwhelming majority of them felt that their names were 
a part of them, built in like an arm or a finger, and not a fortuitous 

Anthropologists have frequently pointed out that many primitive 
men make no distinction between the name and the person 

Primitives regard their names as something concrete and real, and 
frequently sacred. [22, 50] 

In some primitive tribes this identification of the name and the 
person went to such a length that "to be" and "to be named" were 
synonymous and the child was not regarded as having been com- 
pletely born until he was named. It is a common practice among 
primitive peoples to give an individual a new name, or to change 
his name, at some critical time of life such as puberty or marriage. 
Among the Dakota Indians, a young man who had distinguished 
himself in battle was allowed to take on a new and distinctive 
name; Abram's name was changed to Abraham, the Bible tells us, 
at the time of the long march to Palestine. Those familiar with 
anthropological literature could multiply these examples many 

In the history of surnames the psychologist finds that people 
who voluntarily chose their names tended to identify themselves 
with some positive value current at the time. Thus the name 


"John," almost unknown in Saxon England, spread widely with 
the return of the Crusaders; the medieval craftsman, proud of his 
skill, gratified himself with names such as Shoemaker, Carpenter, 
Smith, etc.; others took the names of high offices such as Cham- 
berlain, King, Duke. The Reformation, with the King James 
version of the Bible, had a profound effect on English nomencla- 
ture: girls were named Martha, Mary, Phoebe; boys Peter, Paul, 
Matthew, and so on. The strict Puritans, desirous of standing out 
from the rest, began the fashion of naming their children after 
abstract virtues. And so children got such first names as Patience, 
Prudence, Faith, Hope, etc. This fashion became so extreme that 
some unfortunate children had whole phrases as their first names. 
For example, there were three Barebone brothers named: If-Christ- 
had-not-died-f or-thee-thou-hadst-been-damned Barebone ; Praise- 
God Barebone; and Jesus-Christ-came-into-the-world-to-save Bare- 
bone. As Holt says, in all of these instances the individual was 
trying to "identify the self with something with which there was 
already ego-involvement." [18, 32] 

That individuals in everyday life try to get some ego-enhance- 
ment from the prestige they hope to associate with their names is 
revealed by the existence of various organizations which will, for 
a fee, send to those who write a complete history of their family. 
In their enticing advertisements, these organizations list such 
ordinary names as Jones, Baker, Cooper and Smith. A skeptical 
journalist wrote one of these organizations for a number of these 
family accounts, each of which they advertised as "separate and 
distinct works." He discovered striking similarities in them all, 
similarities which built up the prestige of the recipient, no matter 
what his name happened to be. He writes: 

In each of 25 manuscripts there occurs a paragraph which flatter- 
ingly summarizes the traits and characteristics of ancestors in that 
particular family. This paragraph, with only the slightest modification 
of a word or two, reads: "The descendants of these and probably of 
other branches of the family of America have spread to practically 
every state of the Union, and have aided as much in the growth of 
the country as their ancestors aided in the founding of the nation. 
They have been noted for their integrity, industry, energy, courage, 
fiety, ambition, initiative, resourcefulness and ferseverance" Occa- 


sionally, to add a nice touch of distinction to the family history, the 
order of the words was shifted around. But in 21 of the 25 "separate 
and distinct works," these italicized virtues were identical. [38] 

Further confirmation of the prestige and status significance of 
names is found in the rather common tendency of persons whose 
names reflect some unpleasant stereotype or negative value to 
change their names to something more common and accepted. 
Jews have had trouble with their names all through their history. 
In various countries and at various times, they have been forced by 
law or decree to assume names that would distinguish them from 
the non-Jews of a society. Such laws were passed in Bohemia in 
1787, Napoleon in 1808 forced Jews to adopt certain names, and a 
Nazi decree required "any Jew having a non-Jewish first name 
to adopt as an additional given name Israel, if male, Sarah if 
female." It became a practice for officials to sell names to Jews so 
that those who were wealthy were able to acquire "good" names 
such as Stern (Star), Blum (Flower). A young man whose name 
had formerly been Ginsberg, but who had changed it to Gray, 
when asked why he had changed his name said: 

It was because of certain associations and meanings connected with 
the name Ginsberg which did not apply to my family. [18, 115] 

He commented that the former name "suppressed my ego and 
gave me inferiority feelings." 

There are also illustrations of government edicts commanding 
all people to take certain types of names in the national interest. 
Thus Edward IV of England in 1465 told the Irish to take English 
surnames or forfeit their possessions; Philip II of Spain in 1568 
forced the remaining Moors in Spain to be baptized with Spanish 
names. In a decree issued in 1933, all Turkish citizens were 
ordered to assume a distinct family name of Turkish origin. The 
names taken by many Turks during this period reveal their ego 
aspirations. Father Divine urges his "children" to assume new 
names at the time they join his movement, on the theory that since 
they have become new persons they should have new names. [6, 

Many people have so identified themselves with their names 
that they have refused to change them for professional reasons or 


because of custom. Lucy Stone, one of the early agitators in this 
country for women's rights, refused to change her name when she 
was married and believed so strongly that a woman somehow lost 
her identity by assuming her husband's name that she became the 
rallying point for the Lucy Stone Leaguers. As one of the Lucy 
Stoners put it: 

I confess that I believe there is something in names; that one's 
name is what Lucy Stone called it "the symbol of my identity which 
must not be lost." The point of view is simply that if you have from 
your very first conscious thought regarded yourself as Anna Maria 
Brown, you can't suddenly with any comfort regard yourself as 
Mrs. Thomas Smith. [18, 110] 

A Southern woman, when asked by Holt how she felt about 
changing her name at marriage, wrote: 

To be strictly truthful in the matter I shall have to admit that a 
strong feeling of resentment predominates. I remember it as a dis- 
tinct shock when I was first called Mrs. Landess. I felt at first a sort 
of blank bewilderment and then I became almost angry bristling 
with resentment. I was always very proud of what Papa made 
Hilditch stand for all my ideals (real or fancied) I had cherished 
seemed tied up in that name and then to have to change it to one 
vastly inferior, which I came to realize stood for nothing but vulgarity 
was almost too humiliating. [18, 130 f.] 

Interesting personality comparisons might be made of professional 
women who change their names when they are married, those 
who keep their maiden names, and those who adopt the compro- 
mise solution of using both maiden and married names together. 
The martyr. The pages of history are rife with examples of 
persons who preferred to die the death of a martyr or a hero than 
to give up what to them were ideals more important than life 
itself. Giordano Bruno, the Dominican friar of the sixteenth cen- 
tury, was condemned to the flames by the Inquisition because he 
would not renounce the ideas of God and the universe which the 
Copernican doctrine had inspired in him. Paul Lafargue and his 
wife, daughter of Karl Marx, committed suicide when they felt 
they had outlived their effectiveness as protagonists for Marxism. 
Joan of Arc, the Maid of Orleans, was tried as a heretic and burned 


at the stake because of her innocent and unswerving allegiance to 
the revelations of her "voices" which were not at all in conformity 
to official Church interpretations. In such instances we have 
illustrations par excellence of the fact that a value can and does 
become such a central part of the ego, that the individual feels 
life is intolerable and meaningless if this value cannot be preserved 
as a part of the self. 

World War II brought out in striking fashion as most wars 
do the fact that ordinary soldiers and ordinary common people 
sometimes prefer to take their own lives, to die for what they 
believe is a cause (value) rather than be captured by the enemy. 
The utmost heroism self-sacrifice was displayed by men fight- 
ing in the various armies. Particularly dramatic illustrations were 
exhibited by certain Japanese soldiers who chose to blow them- 
selves to bits rather than give themselves up; suicide (Kamikaze) 
pilots volunteered for extinction; there were authentic reports of 
individual and mass suicides of Japanese civilians. These people 
died as they did, not because of any innate "Japanese mentality." 
They had learned thoroughly and felt intensely the particular set of 
values taught by a chauvinistic religion which held that a life not 
lived in the service of the Emperor or the State was valueless, while 
death in the service was noble and would be rewarded in heaven. 
[37] Heroes in other armies sacrificed their lives for other value 

Ego-involvements determined by situation. We have already 
pointed out that an individual's behavior may be modified or deter- 
mined not only because of ego-involvements due to the acceptance 
of established norms, but also because of more or less temporary 
ego-involvement created by the demands of an actual concrete 
situation. Thus a person who happens to be at the scene of an 
accident will often feel that it is his responsibility to help an in- 
jured person until more competent professional aid arrives. 
When we take a long ride in the train, get acquainted with the 
other passengers in our car, a certain camaraderie often develops, 
we feel that the people in that particular car are members of our 
group as distinct from the passengers in other cars. 

In the last chapter we cited an example of group formation from 
Bill Mauldin's penetrating Up Front [29]. At the very beginning 


of the book, Mauldin describes the identification a soldier makes 
with his division a somewhat more permanent identification than 
one that may be built up with a special outfit assigned to a tem- 
porary job but still a group situation brought on by the exigencies 
of war, not an established group such as the family or the church, 
characterized by values that remain relatively enduring. 

During the three years I spent in the 45th Division, I was certain 
that it was not only the best division in the army, but that it was the 
army. Since then I have kicked around in more than fifteen other 
divisions, and I have found that the men in each of them are con- 
vinced that their division is the best and the only division. That's 
good. [29, 1] 

In Men Under Stress, a book filled with keen observations, 
Grinker and Spiegel [16] describe the identifications and loyalties 
that emerged when men were thrown together in the same air 
combat team during World War II. 

The most vital relationship is not the purely social. It is the feeling 
that the men have for each other as members of combat teams and 
toward the leaders of those teams, that constitutes the essence of their 
relationship. It is an interesting fact that, although the members of 
combat crews arc thrown together only by chance, they rapidly be- 
come united to each other by the strongest bonds while in combat. 
. . . The men and their plane become identified with each other with 
an intensity that in civil life is found only within the family circle. 
Crew members habitually refer to each other as "my pilot" "my 
bombardier" "my gunner" and so on, and their feeling for their 
plane is equally strong, since its strength and reliability are as im- 
portant as those of any human members of the crew. . . . The emo- 
tional attitudes the fliers ta\e toward each other have less to do with 
the accident of their individual personalities than with the circum- 
stances of their association. . . . The men in the combat teams are 
brothers by virtue of their constant enforced association, their depend- 
ence upon each other, their common ideals and goals, and their rela- 
tion to their leaders. [16, 22ft., italics ours] 

In another book, War Neuroses [17], the same authors show 
how this identification with a group is one of the strongest forces 
preventing anxiety in the individual. The group 


. . . becomes the object of considerable love and affection on the 
part of its members. They are proud of the group, and resent new- 
comers. They are jealous of other groups, and strive to achieve per- 
fection for their own. . . . Not what happens to the individual, but 
what happens to the group, is the dominant concern. The injury, or 
even death, of the individual is insignificant, compared to the fate of 
the group. One pilot with an anxiety neurosis stated this very simply : 
"I couldn't sweat it out at the field while my crew were over the 
target. It was worse than going along." Through his identification 
with the group, the individual shares in the achievement and victory 
of battle even if he should be injured or killed. A part of him con* 
tinues to live gloriously, as a member of the group, no matter what 
his personal fate. This alteration in disposition of the psychological 
energy by virtue of identification with the group contributes im- 
mensely to the capacity of the ego to ward off anxiety. [17, 118, italics 

The loss of morale in the individual soldier and the consequent 
change in his behavior when his group is broken up and he loses 
his established loyalties is recognized in the following order issued 
by General Joseph T. McNarney to all unit commanders of 
American troops in occupied Germany (April 1946): [36, italics 

Due to rapid demobilization and frequent change of station of units 
and assignments of enlisted men and officers, firm ties of unit-pride 
have been weakened. The traditional constant concern of officers for 
the welfare of their men and consequent mutual loyalties have been 
difficult to maintain during this transition period. Team-work often 
has been forgotten. 

Consequently discipline in certain localities and commands in this 
theatre has deteriorated to a point of discrediting the fine performance 
of our troops in general. Indications of this state can be found in : 

A. Participation in black market activities and indulgence in drunk- 

B. A high absent-without-leave rate and excessive incidence of 
other disciplinary infractions. 

C. The high automobile accident rate. 

D. The excessive venereal disease rate. 

E. The general lack of smartness in appearance and conscientious 
observance of military courtesy. 


F. The complaining attitude toward constituted military authority 
and those duties essential to maintain high standards of soldierly 
efficiency. [36] 

In chapter 12, dealing with the breakdown of the ego, we shall see 
further instances of the effect on the individual of the loss of links 
to other kinds of groups. 

Statements obtained from scientists doing strategic work on the 
atomic bomb during the war revealed that under the stress of 
circumstances they tended to lose any interest in personal acclaim 
and identified themselves with the success of the venture as a 

It was the newness and magnitude of the undertaking in time of 
national crisis which created a spirit of cooperation and teamwork 
within the group. One only had to note the lights burning in the 
offices and laboratories far into the night to realize that time was of 
the essence. These were also times in which there were so many 
problems of basic scientific detail to be answered that the young 
physicist or chemist, assigned one question to answer, felt that on the 
successful resolution of his problem depended the venturing into the 
next stage of development. . . . Cloistered theoretical scientists, uni- 
versity professors and students, industrial engineers, presidents of 
companies large and small, army dignitaries and government officials, 
all these were able to iron out their views and settle differences of 
policy on which hinged the success of the venture. 

Another scientist reported that 

In looking back over my experience with the Manhattan project, I 
remember a great deal of friction and bitter argument, yet I can hardly 
remember a case where the basis of friction was personal. I believe 
the reason why the feeling was so strong in many instances was that 
the individuals concerned were fighting for the success of the project 
as a whole and differing only about what course would lead most 
surely to that success. The very obstinacy with which some main- 
N tained their point of view was because they felt that if they gave it 
up they were giving up something much more important than per- 
sonal opinions or prejudices. There were many instances in the 
project of men taking on distasteful jobs merely because they felt they 
had to be done. Almost universally it was necessary for the directors 
of the project to keep the professional men from working too hard 


rather than to push them. I really believe that there were very few 
people on the project who were not willing to sacrifice their personal 
feelings and ambitions for the over-all success. I would estimate that 
in the professional group over ninety per cent of the men that I know 
tried and, in large measure, succeeded in merging their egos with the 
whole work. In many cases this attitude extended down through the 
clerical and technical groups as well. 

By June of 1944, 83 per cent of the people in the United States 
felt they were personally doing something to help win World 
War II. Skilled workers, industrialists, housewives as well as 
atomic scientists and those in the armed forces were able to unite 
their personal values with a larger social value. This identification 
was determined largely by the circumstances of the war itself, by 
common threats and the need for all-out effort if all were to sur- 
vive, and not by any harmony of established values that continued 
at war's end. Such developments as the wave of strikes that fol- 
lowed the industrial "truce" during the war, controversies over 
racial discrimination, and the full emergence of party politics in- 
dicated that when the war was over there was no longer a unified 
clearly understood well-directed "cause" for people to identify 
with. Common allegiances broke down and gave way to separate 
often conflicting group or class interests which existed in the par- 
ticular social organization. 

An example of the way an astute national leader in a democ- 
racy got people to take part in a decision which he had to make 
but which he knew might be resented is found in President Roose- 
velt's announcement when he ordered General MacArthur's escape 
from the Philippines. It was known from a public opinion poll, 
taken shortly before MacArthur's departure, that half the people in 
the United States felt General MacArthur should stay with his 
men in the Philippines to the bitter end. Roosevelt was therefore 
faced with the possibility that MacArthur would be branded as a 
deserter by this sizable number of Americans. He could further- 
more take it for granted that Axis propagandists would capitalize 
on the event to show that American generals were yellow and cow- 
ardly. The carefully worded statement issued by the President 
as the first announcement of MacArthur's escape not only soothed 
what would otherwise have been the ruffled American public but 


also made it impossible for the Axis propagandists to make capital 
of the event. It can be seen in the statement below how Roosevelt 
put the decision up to every American citizen, made them feel it 
was their decision, and that they could choose no other alternative. 

I know that every man and woman in the United States admires 
with me General MacArthur's determination to fight to the finish 
with his men in the Philippines. But I also know that every man 
and woman is in agreement that all important decisions must be made 
with a view toward the successful termination of the war. Knowing 
this, I am sure that every American, if faced individually with the 
question as to where General MacArthur could best serve his country, 
could come to only one answer. [35] 

This was the whole announcement. 

The effectiveness of "group decision" has been well known 
and practiced for years in certain industrial concerns, such as the 
DuPont Company in its safety programs, the great TVA develop- 
ment, and the recurrent Five Year Plans of the Soviet Union. 
For example, David E. Lilienthal, former Chairman of the TVA, 
in his penetrating book, TV A Democracy on the March, reports 

From the outset of the TVA undertaking it has been evident to 
me, as to many others, that a valley development envisioned in its 
entirety could become a reality if and only if the people of the region 
did much of the planning, and participated in most of the decisions. 
To a considerable degree this is what is happening. Each year, 
almost each month, one can see the participation of the people, as 
a fundamental practice, grow more vigorous, and, although it suffers 
occasional setbacks, it is becoming part of the thinking and the 
mechanics of the development of the Tennessee Valley. [77, italics 

And LilienthaPs book contains numerous illustrations to show 
how group decisions were encouraged as a method of ensuring 
maximum co-operation and effectiveness of effort. A demonstra- 
tion of the same principle is found later in a report by Lewin 
of experiments conducted during the war in an attempt to get 
people to change their food habits: those who had actively helped 
in establishing a group norm felt the decision was theirs. As the 


report indicates, "the specific effect of asking for a 'group' decision 
is to heighten the sense of involvement and thus secure greater 
participation." [23, 9] 

Status within groups. We have already reported a number of 
studies which show the way in which an individual identifies him- 
self with a particular occupation, race, or class, and the effect such 
identification has on his own conception of status (chs. 4 and 6). 
And we saw in the last chapter how the individual develops loyal- 
ties to particular groups and the important role these loyalties play 
in defining his ego links. It would, however, be an oversimplifi- 
cation of the real state of affairs if any impression remained that 
because an individual finds himself placed in some broad category 
within the social organization, such as "skilled worker," "doctor," 
"Negro," or "servant," his identification with the group and the 
status accorded him by other members of the group was identical 
with the identification and status of all other people who fall 
within the same general category. For, on closer examination, it 
will be found that, in addition to the conflicting and ambivalent 
loyalties already emphasized, there are generally very definite 
hierarchies and substatus groupings within any broad category. 
In addition to his general status derived from a broad reference 
group, an individual acquires a specific status according to his 
membership character within a given group. Hence, to under- 
stand the particular ego constellation of any individual in a pre- 
cise way, it becomes necessary to know how an individual places 
himself and is placed by other members of a group within any 
category objectively defined. The point can be illustrated with 
reference to concrete observations of two commonly used descrip- 
tive classifications "Negroes" and "factory workers." 

There is no need here to elaborate the fact that there is a wide- 
spread stereotype in the United States concerning the place most 
white people feel the Negro should have in our contemporary so- 
cial organization. The existence of the color line was described as 
follows by the father of an intelligent Negro boy who at the age 
of 14 was just beginning to be aware of the fact that color made 
a difference. While sitting on the doorstep of their home in a 
middle-sized New Jersey city, the father pointed to a tramp who 
happened to be walking along the street and said to his son, "You 


see that tramp standing over there, Jim ? He's shiftless, common, 
and no good. However, if he were to bathe, shave, and put on a 
clean suit, he could gain entrance to any public place in the coun- 
try. With you it's different. No matter what you do, how well 
educated you become, you can never be treated on the same social 
level as that tramp because of your color." [28, 1] 

But within the Negro world itself, one finds approximately the 
same hierarchy of status according to occupation, education, and 
so on that exists in the surrounding white macrocosm. This is 
only one example of a minority group accepting in part the norms 
of the majority. Negroes who regard themselves as members of 
the upper class, while denouncing the rigid caste barrier between 
whites and Negroes will by and large ardently defend a class struc- 
ture within the Negro group itself. Davis, Gardner, and Gardner, 
in their study of the Deep South [12] indicate that four of the 
questions asked by upper class Negroes of other Negroes trying 
to break into the upper class, go somewhat as follows: 

1) What has been his education? 2) Has he professional or semi- 
professional status? 3) Are his language, manners, and dress "pol- 
ished"? 4) Is he black? [12,2*6] 

The answer to the last question must be "No." And the same 
authors further report that "the overwhelming majority of colored 
persons are considered lower class, according to the colored group's 
own standards!' [222] 

A particularly revealing fact about these specific status group- 
ings among Negroes is that the lighter a Negro is in color, the 
greater chance he has to rise in the social scale. An unusually 
large percentage of light Negroes is found in the upper class of 
the Negro world. A young Negress whose very light skin enabled 
her to pass easily from the Negro to the white world revealed the 
sensitivity of Negroes about their color when she reported: 

When I am in the presence of dark skinned people, I'm always 
very careful not to let the word "black" enter into my conversation. 
I have seen dark people get very angry when anything concerning 
blackness is brought up. They seem to think that you are belittling 
or making fun of them. [28, 39] 


This same Negress, a college graduate, observed that many of the 
"better" Negro sororities definitely tended to exclude girls of very 
dark skins. It is not unusual for Negroes when filling out docu- 
ments (such as applications for a marriage license) that require 
a designation of "color," to be quite specific if they are not them- 
selves black, by inserting "light tan," "brown," and so on. Davis, 
Gardner, and Gardner describe the way in which light-skinned 
Negroes tend to form subcliques, and Myrdal reports that 

In such cities as New Orleans, Charleston, Mobile, Natchez, and 
later Washington, highly exclusive mulatto societies were formed 
which still exist, to a certain extent, today. Color thus became a 
badge of status and social distinction among the Negro people. [32, 

The same study also reports that 

Darker Negroes who rose from the masses to distinction in the 
Negro community by getting an education or by conducting successful 
business enterprises showed an almost universal desire to marry light- 
skinned women and so to become adopted members of the light- 
colored aristocracy and to give their children a heritage of lighter 
color. [32, 697] 

An experimental demonstration of this process was reported in 
Marks's study (pp. 136/.). 

The importance of skin color within the Negro world, together 
with certain practices such as the attempt of many Negro women 
to take the curl out of their hair, clearly indicates that Negroes 
have made many norms of the white world their norms, that by 
and large in contemporary United States these norms taken over 
from the white world become for them ego-involved in various 
degrees. Because of his marginal position, various conflicts in 
values or conflicts of ego identification are bound to be felt by a 
large proportion of Negroes in our society: their own implicit 
allegiance to certain bourgeois white standards and white norms 
tend to run counter to any unequivocal allegiance to aspirations 
certain Negro leaders may have for racial solidarity and unity and 
likewise run counter to class allegiances that pay no attention to 
culture whether white, black, or mulatto. 


The hierarchy of status among skilled and semiskilled factory 
workers has been highlighted in the past decade in the United 
States by the intense rivalry between the two major labor unions 
one organized along craft lines, the other along industrial lines. 
From the psychological point of view, it is by no means accidental 
that craft unions got a much earlier start. For workers, identify- 
ing themselves with a particular job or skill, could with relative 
ease join others in the same specific occupation to form an or- 
ganized pressure group in which all would benefit by the achieve- 
ment of certain goals. The resistance met by the Congress of In- 
dustrial Organizations in breaking down these relatively restricted 
ego-involvements and transforming them into identifications with 
persons of other skills in the same industry is well known. 

A good description of the specific-status hierarchy felt by work- 
ers because of their membership character in the same industry is 
given in the detailed study of Roethlisberger and Dickson: [39] 

In the factory, as in any social milieu, a process of social evaluation 
is constantly at work. From this process distinctions of "good" and 
"bad," "inferior" and "superior," arise. This process of evaluation is 
carried on with simple and ready generalizations by means of which 
values become attached to individuals and to groups performing cer- 
tain tasks and operations. It assigns to a group of individuals per- 
forming such and such a task a particular rank in the established 
prestige scale. Each work group becomes a carrier of social values^ 
In industry with its extreme diversity of occupations there are a 
number of such groupings. Any noticeable similarity or difference, 
not only in occupation but also in age, sex, and nationality, can serve 
as a basis of social classification, as, for example, "married women," 
the "old-timer," the "white-collared" or clerical worker, the "foreign 
element." Each of these groups, too, has its own value system. . . . 
Just as each employee has a particular physical location, so he has a 
particular social place in the total social organization. ... It is obvi- 
ous that these scales of value are never completely accepted by all the 
groups in the social environment. The shop worker does not quite see 
why the office worker, for example, should have shorter hours of work 
than he has. Or the newcomer, whose efficiency on a particular job 
is about the same, but whose hourly rate is less than that of some 
old-timer, wonders why service should count so much. The manage- 
ment group, in turn, from the security of its social elevation, does not 


often understand what "all the fuss is about." As was indicated by 
many of the studies, any person who has achieved a certain rank in 
the prestige scale, regards anything real or imaginary which tends to 
alter his status adversely as something unfair or unjust. It is apparent 
that any move on the part of the management may alter the existing 
social equilibrium to which the employee has grown accustomed and 
by means of which his status is defined. Immediately this disruption 
will be expressed in sentiments of resistance to the real or imagined 
alterations in the social equilibrium. [39, 555 /.] 

And the same authors report that dissatisfaction with wages is 
due not only to the absolute amount of wages but to what the 
worker may feel is an unfair wage differential between himself 
and someone doing a slightly different job. 

Complaints arise when wage differentials do not express appropri- 
ately the differences in social significance which the different jobs 
have to the employees themselves. Many workers who expressed a 
grievance about wages went on to say that the reason for their com- 
plaint was not that they were dissatisfied with their own wages but 
that "it isn't fair." [39, 576] 

This is one more example of the fact that judgment is based on a 
referential scale. 

In addition to the mixed loyalties caused by differences in the 
nature of the jobs themselves, unionization, especially in the earlier 
days when floods of immigrants were coming into the United 
States, was made difficult because of the mixed national loyalties 
of people who became factory workers. MacDonald, in her Labor 
Problems and the American Scene [27], writes that 

The foreign composition of the labor force has had a profound 
effect on the trade unions. The difference in experience, language, 
and especially skill has made a breach in the ranks of organized labor 
by creating an aristocratic group with little consideration for the un- 
skilled. The division line between skilled and unskilled has often 
coincided with that of native and alien. ... By mixing nationalities 
to prevent communication, pitting one group against another, playing 
up the racial and religious antipathies of the Old World, introducing 
immigrant strikebreakers, employers for a number of years were able 
to control their labor forces for their own ends. Constant introduction 
of new recruits tended to keep the labor market in a fluid condition. 


No sooner had a labor group settled down and the union movement 
made an attempt to enlist the workers than another immigrant group 
was brought in. [27, 237 f.] 

Job satisfaction. With increasing technological advancement, 
the dependence of more and more people on large-scale industrial 
production and distribution both for a livelihood and for consumer 
goods, one of the most crucial problems of contemporary society 
is the attitude toward the job held by those who occupy dependent, 
wage-earning, or marginal positions. The fact that in the past 
few decades the rapid industrial development in the United States 
has enormously changed the occupational distribution of gainful 
workers can be illustrated by the following census figures: there 
is a marked decrease of agricultural workers, an increase of work- 
ers in jobs concerned with the production or distribution of manu- 
factured goods. Along with this shift in occupation has gone, of 
course, the familiar shift of the population from farm to urban 

1870 AND 1930 [9] 

1870 1930 

Agriculture 53.0 21.4 

Manufacturing and mechanical industries 20.5 28.9 

Trade 6.8 12.5 

Transportation and communication 4.2 7.9 

It is unnecessary to point out here that this increasing indus- 
trialization has by no means been accomplished entirely by har- 
monious relationships between management and workers in the 
United States or most other countries. By and large, workers have 
"had to fight" for higher wages, lower hours, and better working 
conditions. A recent survey (1945) has shown that less than one 
third of skilled and semiskilled workers are satisfied with their 
incomes, whereas nearly 60 per cent of those in the business and 
management class say they are satisfied. [10] When Centers asked 
the question on a national survey, "Do you think working people 
are usually fairly and squarely treated by their employers, or that 
employers sometimes take advantage of them?" less than a third 
of manual workers felt that the working people were being fairly 
treated whereas approximately half of all business, white collar, 


and professional people believed workers were getting what was 
due them. [10] 

We are calling attention to the fact that wages and hours are 
fundamental conditions of work satisfaction to make it quite clear 
that these must be taken as part and parcel of any more general 
consideration of what constitutes work satisfaction. However, in 
addition to the more important structural properties of economic 
organization, it is apparent that "work satisfaction" involves psy- 
chological factors that form a context within which satisfaction 
with wages and hours is judged. 

We cannot survey here in any detail the vast literature that has 
accumulated on the problem of incentives in industry. Summariz- 
ing a number of studies on work satisfaction (1939), Watson con- 

We have provided psychologically satisfactory employment for a 
large proportion of the people in professional and managerial occupa- 
tions, and for a majority of the middle-class workers in small towns. 
We have been much less successful in the mines, factories, and un- 
skilled trades. [45, 123] 

And he points to the problem that concerns us here when he ob- 
serves that certain investigations on the subject of job satisfaction 
have shown that there is "most distress over ego injuries." H. J. 
Ruttenberg, research director of the Steel Workers Organizing 
Committee, expressed the workers' point of view in answer to a 
question put to him at an industrial conference: 

I live in a district where the workers live, and spend almost all of 
my time with them, and they are emotionally dissatisfied, intellectually 
dissatisfied, and economically dissatisfied . . . because of having to 
respond to technical changes which they did not originate, and in con- 
trast to [workers] who increased production when they were consulted 
on technical changes. . . . One of the most fundamental impulses in 
a man in a shop is self-expression. If he is denied that in determining 
his wages, he feels much dissatisfied. If he is permitted expression in 
the production set-up, then he feels that he has made a contribution 
to the whole. [34, 133 f.] 

From his review of industrial leadership, McGregor concludes that 
"opportunities to participate in the solution of problems and in 


the discussion of actions which may affect him, the opportunity 
to assume responsibility as he becomes ready for it" are two of 
the conditions necessary if an industrial worker is to feel satisfied 
and secure. [30, 63] When the British Institute of Public Opinion 
asked the question (January 1946) "Apart from wages and secur- 
ity, what do you need most in a job for making you feel contented 
whilst at work?" 40 per cent of all respondents gave answers that 
revealed their desire for more active participation in the total job 
answers such as "cooperation between management and em- 
ployee," "appreciative employer." Most of the other answers given 
were very general ones such as "good working conditions," or con- 
cern with specific desires for shorter hours. 

Roethlisberger and Dickson conclude from their careful investi- 
gation that 2 

It is not possible to treat, as in the more abstract social sciences, 
material goods, physical events, wages, and hours of work as things in 
themselves, subject to their own laws. Instead, they must be inter- 
preted as carriers of social value. For the employee in industry, the 
whole working environment must be looked upon as being permeated 
with social significance. Apart from the social values inherent in his 
environment the meaning to the employee of certain objects or events 
cannot be understood. To understand the meaning of any employee's 
complaints or grievances, it is necessary to take account of his position 
or status in the company. This position is determined by the social 
organization of the company: that system of practices and beliefs by 
means of which the human values of the organization are expressed, 
and the symbols around which they are organized efficiency, service, 
etc. [39, 374] 

It is clear beyond any shadow of doubt that the satisfaction an 
individual has in his job can never be complete unless he feels that 
the work he is doing is Ms job, unless there is some way in which 
he can participate through his job in some activity that will bring 
him satisfaction. This satisfaction may be relatively restricted as 
in the case of a man who feels the importance of his work in rela- 

2 The failure of most American industrialists to take adequate account of some 
of the conclusions that can be derived from these and other empirical studies is 
pointed out by Elton Mayo of the Harvard Business School in his book, The 
Social Problems of an Industrial Civilization. 


tion to others in his factory unit; it may involve the larger satis- 
faction he feels *s an important cog in the whole industrial plant; 
or a worker may identify himself and his job with the fate and 
progress of a whole social organization or with workers in all 

It is not our task here to discuss the relative effectiveness with 
which this job identification can be accomplished under different 
systems of economic organization. But we can learn something 
of the psychological components of job satisfaction among indus- 
trial workers in the United States if we examine a concrete case 
where job satisfaction seems to be extremely high. We take as our 
example the Lincoln Electric Company which has received a great 
deal of publicity. Just what conditions prevail in the Lincoln 
Electric Company to make for job satisfaction ? Why does it stand 
out as a plant where there appears to be complete harmony, co- 
operation, and mutual confidence between "labor" and "manage- 

A report issued by the United States Department of Labor on 
incentive wage plans (1942) states that the grievances workers 
have against scientific management 

... are attributable to the tendency of management engineers to 
consider labor as impersonal and as a part of the machine process. 
Workers feel that they are being treated as abstract "labor" rather than 
human beings at work. [21, 7] 

The undeniable success of the Lincoln Electric Company seems 
to be due basically to the feeling of its President that "labor is an 
individual not a commodity." [24, 203] And for Mr. Lincoln the 
statement was more than words handed out by a public relations 
department or aired at a management-labor conference. He pro- 
ceeded to try to create the conditions within which the individual 
could participate as an individual in the total job of the plant. 
One of the first things he did was to encourage the formation of 
an advisory board chosen from the entire personnel of the plant, 
one man being elected from each department by all members of 
that department The men on the board, together with the plant 
superintendent and Mr. Lincoln, who acts as chairman, serve as 


the board of directors of the plant. Here are a few of the deci- 
sions this advisory board has put into operation: installed a piece- 
work incentive plan with rates guaranteed by the company and 
with the worker having the right to challenge the rates set; in- 
sured all workers for the equivalent of a year's wages without cost 
to the individual worker; provided two weeks vacation with pay, 
closing the entire factory for the purpose; issued stock to the em- 
ployees who want it (over half are stockholders); established a 
suggestion system and provided that anyone whose suggestion for 
more efficient production is accepted will receive half of the net 
estimated savings for the first year of use (approximately 50 new 
suggestions are turned in every month and about one tenth of 
them prove useful); inaugurated a bonus system whereby each 
worker receives what is regarded as his share of the bonus accord- 
ing to his value to the company; installed an annuity plan and a 
trust fund; set up an employee association to provide for social 
and athletic activity and which has, for example, a sick committee 
whose members have among their duties the obligation to visit 
within 48 hours anyone who has not reported to work because of 

Some of the claims which the Lincoln Electric Company can 
make (in the early 1940's) are the following: Lincoln workers 
produce more per hour than any organization making a com- 
parable product in the world; Lincoln Electric factory workers are 
the highest paid employees in industry anywhere in the world. 
In 1943 the average annual earnings for all employees was $5,539. 
Approximately 90 per cent of Lincoln employees own their own 
homes. There is practically no labor turnover: of 260 employees 
on the payroll ten years ago, 203 are still with the company. Lin- 
coln selling prices are less than those of any company making a 
comparable product. 

Lincoln himself describes his plan as one based on "intelligent 
selfishness." [25] What he means by this is that each individual 
in the plant sees his relationship to the plant as a whole and 
realizes that "he is a vital part of one going whole." The worker 
knows that the company's success is his success and Lincoln em- 
ployees do not seem to share the fear so common in many indus- 


tries with incentive wage plans that they will either work them- 
selves out of a job or that rates will be cut. According to Mr. 
Lincoln, the plan under which his company operates 

... has changed our workers from people who are working at a 
job at so much an hour into people who feel their success is tied 
definitely, completely and proportionately into the success of the com- 
pany itself. They are not working at a job so many hours a day at so 
much per hour. They are working to get a job done. This change of 
attitude from working so many hours a day for so much money into 
the desire of working to produce a certain result produces unbelievable 
results in efficiency of production. [33, 21] 

An employee of the company puts it as follows: 

I know that the more I make, the more my company is able to make. 
Every time any of us increases our efficiency, the amount saved is 
proportioned between me and the rest of my business partners. [47, 4] 

This particular employee regards himself as a business man with 
definite status: 

For some reason or other, a lot of people seem to be impressed 
with the idea that because you work where the labor of production 
gets your hands dirty, you have no right to be paid more than so much 
a year. . . . Most of these fellows work with their hands and get them 
pretty dirty sometimes, too. Yet no one ever questions whether they 
are worth the incomes they make. I look at welding as a kind of 
professional business, an art I have to be good at in order to keep up 
with* the rest of the businessmen who work around me here at 
Lincoln. [47, 4} 

The Lincoln Electric Company, as we pointed out, is unusual. 
The particular combination of factors that makes it what it is also 
makes it something of a little world of its own. The company's 
practices deviated so much from the usual ones in American in- 
dustry that during World War II it was kept busy justifying its 
methods to government committees and departments. There is 
no union in the Lincoln Electric Company and the employees, 
therefore, regard themselves more as "businessmen," identify them- 
selves with the company and its welfare, not with other working 
people in the larger world outside. In other words, employee 


identifications with their jobs can be regarded as occurring within 
a relatively restricted and isolated industrial microcosm: a micro- 
cosm with its own norms and values. Hence the Lincoln em- 
ployee, in identifying himself with his particular organization, 
does not simultaneously and automatically identify himself with 
more widespread values common to the whole social organization 
within which his company is but a small part. Just what would 
happen to the Lincoln plan and just what identifications Lincoln 
Electric workers would make if there were a major depression are 
moot questions. 

Lilienthal's report of the development of the TVA clearly re- 
veals the sense of identification and participation an individual 
worker can obtain if conditions are such that it is apparent to 
him that in working for a whole regional project he is benefiting 
himself. He writes: 

In pouring concrete so that the Douglas Dam could be built on a 
world-record schedule, in tending the glow of the giant electric fur- 
naces at Muscle Shoals, or in stringing aluminum and copper cable 
along the line of march of transmission towers, TVA workers know, 
and show they know, that in thus working for their valley they are 
working for themselves; they build for themselves. [97] 

And as Lilienthal points out, incentives based on identifications 
with group norms can be stronger than incentives based on the 
"profit motive" alone: 

Whether in private business or public service a man's conviction 
that he is performing an important service for others, that he is 
part of something far more important than himself, is a measure to 
him of the importance of that job. It is this, I think, that accounts 
in considerable part for the continued enthusiasm of the TVA tech- 
nical staff long after the newness of the undertaking has passed, a 
spirit that has been observed and remarked upon by a long succession 
of visitors from other parts of the country and the world. The notion 
is naive that only by the incentive of pay or profit do men "keep on 
their toes" and do their best work. Many of the TVA's key staff 
members are earning less than in the posts they left to join this 
job. \122] 


At the present time, the identification of a worker with his job 
in a factory, mine, or farm, and his simultaneous identification 
with the larger values and purposes of the whole social organiza- 
tion through his job can be best illustrated with reference to the 
role of the worker in the Soviet Union. In a socialist organization 
where all means of production and exchange are owned and oper- 
ated by the state, the possibility exists for each worker, no matter 
what his job, to identify himself with the purposes and aspirations 
of the whole society. Socialism and Communism are constantly 
held up to the people of modern Russia by their leaders as the 
goals toward which each member of the society should strive. The 
principles of socialism and Communism, as defined by Stalin, are 
as follows: 

The principle of Socialism is that in a socialist society each works 
according to his ability and receives articles of consumption, not ac- 
cording to his needs, but according to the work he performs for soci- 
ety. This means that the cultural and technical level of the working 
class is still not a high one, that the distinction between mental and 
manual labor persists, that the productivity of labor is still not high 
enough to ensure an abundance of articles of consumption, and, as a 
result, society is obliged to distribute articles of consumption, not in 
accordance with the needs of the members of society, but in accordance 
with the work they perform for society. Communism represents a 
higher stage of development. The principle of Communism is that in 
a Communist society each works according to his abilities and receives 
articles of consumption, not according to the work he performs, but 
according to his needs as a culturally developed individual [42, 6] 

In other words, the aspiration is that the standard of living and 
the cultural level of all workers should eventually be raised to 
the level enjoyed by the most advanced technicians or profession- 
als. This is the ultimate goal which, as Stalin says, is now far 
from realization. 

The point that concerns us here is the fact that such a general 
goal exists, is explicitly stated, and that a great effort is made by 
the Government and party members to keep the goal constantly 
before the eyes of the people. Status and social approval are meas- 
ured in terms of the usefulness of an individual's labor in achiev- 
ing the common goal. Particularly efficient workers are praised 


in the press and honored with medals. Their photographs appear 
on special bulletin boards of their factories. They become "Heroes 
of the Soviet Union." For example, during World War II, hun- 
dreds of official decorations were awarded to workers in the rear 
as well as to members of the fighting forces. Special distinctions 
are bestowed on factory or agricultural units that show particular 
initiative or efficiency. Similarly every effort is made to turn pub- 
lic opinion against those who do not seem to be doing their share. 
It is in this general context that the Stakhanov movement, de- 
veloped in the middle 1930's, assumed its particular significance. 
Although from a technical point of view, it introduced no methods 
not known and practiced in more advanced industrial countries 
[26], and although the zest with which Stakhanovism was taken 
up developed certain weaknesses and exaggerations because of 
hasty application [13], there can be little doubt that the solid 
achievements it represented in the long run were largely possible 
because the individual Stakhanovite in trying to raise his own 
production standards was not only increasing his income but help- 
ing to achieve a national goal that he understood and identified 
himself with. In becoming a Stakhanovite, an individual was be- 
coming a national hero. For example, Molotov told the All-Union 
Conference of Stakhanovites: 

Do we not know that the most popular representatives of the 
Stakhanov movement are rank-and-file working men and women? 
Yesterday they were still unknown to many even in their own fac- 
tories, yesterday they were on a level with the other rank-and-file 
working men and women. But today the whole working class of the 
Soviet Union knows the names of its new heroes, the names of those 
working men and women who have become the standard-bearers of 
the new movement in the fight for socialism. [31, 4] 

Stakhanovism was regarded in the Soviet Union as a new form 
of "socialist competition." There was not only competition be- 
tween individual workers but competition between factories, fac- 
tory departments, mines, and collective farms. This socialist com- 
petition, the general principles of which were laid down by Lenin 
in 1918, holds the possibility of leading to cohesion rather than to 
a division of interest. For the competitor, whether he acts as an 


individual or as a member of a larger unit, competes within the 
larger framework of a common goal which is constantly made 
clear through the press, over the radio, and in organizational 
meetings. "The resultant change in the psychological atmos- 
phere," as Ward observed it, "is one of the things that causes 
the visitor to realize that he is in a new world." [44, 133] 

In a speech to the members of the First Conference of Stak- 
hanovites held in the Kremlin in 1935, Stalin told them: 

People in our country do not work for exploiters, for the enrichment 
of parasites, but for themselves, for their own class, for their own, 
Soviet society, where government is wielded by the best members of 
the working class. That is why labor in our country has social sig- 
nificance and is a matter of honor and glory. . . . Here the man who 
labors is held in esteem. Here he works not for the exploiters, but for 
himself, for his class, for society. Here the man who labors cannot 
feel neglected and solitary. . . . And if he works well and gives society 
all he can he is a hero of labor and is covered with glory. [42, 13] 

This identification of the Soviet worker with the Communist 
goal is seen in reports revealing the conviction of the Soviet citi- 
zens that what the state accomplishes, he accomplishes; that what 
the state owns, he owns; that his standard of living will be raised 
by collective effort. An American observer writes that "The Soviet 
people have learned from experience that 'what's ours is mine.' " 
[44, 40] A system of ownership has been developed "which makes 
it true that when a man works for others he is also working for 
himself." [43 f.] A British engineer working in Russia has said 

For an engineer, a maker of machines, work in a Soviet factory 
offers tremendous satisfaction. The commercial principle that holds 
sway in capitalist industry very often forces engineers to spend their 
energy, strength, and knowledge for nothing, several factories turning 
out one and the same article, each striving when an order comes to 
secure the contract. All making new designs but only one obtaining 
the order. The other designs are wasted. In the Soviet Union, on 
the other hand, all tasks are linked up with the development of the 
industry and the engineer knows that the plan he has drawn up will 
be used. [20, 24] 


The conversations Pearl Buck reported with a Russian-born and 
educated girl are revealing. This young woman, who had come 
to the United States with her husband, was not a Communist. 
Buck reports: 

I discovered after our first conversation that she was even rather 
vague about the political theories of communism. She judged her 
country solely by pragmatic tests. What was good she knew because 
it had been good for her and her family. What was bad was bad 
because it had not lived up to her expectations. [3, 10] 

Here are a few excerpts from the conversations. 

"What did the village do with the kulak's brick factory?" I asked. 

"It belonged to the collective farm," Masha said. "Those who 
wanted to work there instead of in the fields could do so. The people 
now felt the bric\ factory was theirs, and they worked harder than 
ever and the production was higher than before. I worked in this 
brick factory in the summer for several seasons, and of course, if you 
are interested in profits, you compete, and we actually did two days' 
work in one. Whoever produced the most was respected by others. 
It was interesting and good work, and our collective farm took the 
profits and in this way we built new cow barns, and we bought new 
machines for the fields and to work on the flax." [49, italics ours] 

"But I want to tell you about the evening school. Those people 
worked all day and they came directly from the factory to the school, 
which was in a barracks. During the little free time before school 
began, they read and studied. Sometimes they discussed the day's 
work, and I remember they spoke especially about quotas of work, 
whether this shop or that factory had lived up to its program. They 
felt the responsibility for the worJ^. . . ." [3, 94, italics ours] 

A Stakhanovite girl who had broken many production records 
in the textile mill said to an American observer: 

We work in our own mill, we work for ourselves, without any 
bosses, for our country . . , and that is why we are able to tend such 
a large number of looms. [15, 13 f*] 

This possible identification of the Soviet worker with the values 
of the whole social organization has been very neatly stated by 
the Soviet psychologist Rubinstein: 


The very fact of social life and social division of labor naturally, by 
an internal necessity, brings it about that the activity of man is directly 
aimed at the satisfaction not merely of his own personal needs but of 
those of society as well. To satisfy his own needs, a man must make 
the satisfaction of social needs the direct goal of his actions. . . . The 
socially important, becoming the personally important while still re- 
maining the socially important, arouses in the individual tendencies 
and forces of great strength . . . the socially important, becoming 
personally important for the individual, arouses in him forces much 
more powerful than those evoked by personal desires alone, and differ- 
ent from them in their content, origin and significance. [40, 795, italics 

Special attention should be drawn to the last part of Rubinstein's 
statement. For he brings out here a fact we have repeatedly em- 
phasized, namely, that in new social situations new norms and 
values often arise, that the individual identifies himself with these 
emerging values and exhibits a behavior which qualitatively as 
well as quantitatively can and often does differ from the behavior 
"characteristic" of him "characteristic" only because of the par- 
ticular constellation of social determinants in his more usual en- 
vironment, and which can change radically when those deter- 
minants are altered. 8 

In this particular publication, Rubinstein gives no psychological 
underpinning for his observation that what is socially important 
can be personally important and vice versa. And he himself poses 
as "one of the greatest tasks of psychology" the study of "how 
these moral motives arise and operate, how the individual rises 
above the merely personal to the socially important, and how the 
socially important becomes personally important for him." [795] 
It seems to us that the answer to this question is found in the 
genetic formation of the ego, the incorporation of social values into 
the ego structure of the individual, the identification of the self 
with established values of a group or with new norms that may 
arise in new social situations. There will be "harmony," "integra- 

8 We repeat again that we are not ignoring here individual differences in tem- 
perament and ability and certain characteristic tendencies of behavior which they 
determine. But the relationship of these personality characteristics and traits to 
the social environment and to particular constellations of situational determinants 
cannot be analyzed in detail here. 


tion," "adjustment" between the individual ego and the values of 
various groups or the common values of a whole social organiza- 
tion insofar as the established values of groups or social organiza- 
tions are objectively compatible with one another. 

In a society where the values of different class, status, occupa- 
tion, religious, racial, or nationality groups conflict, in which di- 
lemmas are produced by conflicting statuses, an individual almost 
invariably finds himself placed within two or more of these con- 
flicting groups. He will almost inevitably be torn in his loyalty, 
ego-involved to a greater or lesser extent with values that he can- 
not make jibe with each other. Hence he will feel subjectively 
torn, frustrated, maladjusted. This conflict of loyalties was clearly 
indicated, for example, in a study of the attitudes of U. S. coal 
miners made by the Office of Public Opinion Research in early 
May 1943. [7] At that time the miners' leader, John L. Lewis, 
was threatening to call a strike. A temporary truce had been ar- 
ranged while negotiations continued. The war was raging, and, 
if a strike were called, government seizure of the mines seemed 
inevitable. The workers were asked if they would favor or oppose 
calling a strike. The representative sample voted two to one 
against a strike. They gave as their chief reason their desire not 
to let down the war effort, their confidence in President Roosevelt 
as a man who would give them a square deal. They preferred, 
almost two to one, to follow Roosevelt's orders as Commander- 
in-Chief to orders of their union leaders. At the same time, how- 
ever, over three fourths of them said that, if a strike were called, 
whether they wanted it or not, they would go out they couldn't 
let their union and their union leaders down. As Roethlisberger 
and Dickson point out in their impressive studies of workers in 
an American industry, there is in the United States often consid- 
erable conflict between an individual's personal values and the 
values accepted by him and his immediate coworkers, the values 
held by management, or the values the worker encounters outside 
the factory when he assumes the role of a citizen. They conclude: 

Where the social conditions of work are such as to make it difficult 
for a person to identify himself or his task with any social function, 
the worker is also liable to obsessive responses and hence to a dimin- 
ished capacity for work. [39, 328] 


And they state further that the ultimate significance of an indi- 
vidual's work 

... is not defined so much by his relation to the company as by 
his relation to the wider social reality. Only in terms of this latter 
relation can the different attitudes of satisfaction or dissatisfaction of 
individuals who are presumably enjoying the same working environ- 
ment and occupational status be understood. [39, 376] 

In a revealing study on some of the factors that make for work 
satisfaction, W. T. Watson concluded from his analysis of the case 
histories of a variety of workers that "some form of restlessness or 
mental dissatisfaction seems always to be present" if workers are 
separated "in spirit and objective," if they cannot see some general 
meaning or value in their job. [46, 255] All these results confirm 
Cooky's earlier observations concerning the importance of the 
various roles a worker plays in society in addition to his role as 
a producer. [11] 

On the other hand, the worker in the Soviet system has the pos- 
sibility of finding an extension of the values held by his local fac- 
tory unit to the whole factory or the collective operation and, in 
turn, to the larger goal of the whole social organization. Thus 
the values which are for him personal values and which give him 
status in his own eyes and the eyes of his fellow workers are part 
and parcel of or reflections of values of larger social organizations 
of which he and his immediate group regard themselves a part. 

The upshot of all this is, then, that the individual will feel con- 
sistently and harmoniously ego-involved in proportion to the ob- 
jective consistency and harmony of the many social situations and 
values which form his particular ego constellation. Without un- 
derstanding the relationship of the values which constitute the ego, 
the extent of conflict between or overlapping of those values, we 
cannot understand either the dynamics of industrial morale or the 
reasons for the differential participation of a given individual in 
his job and the gratification that job provides him. The "active" 
and "reactive" egos of industrial workers described by G. W. All- 
port [1] become meaningful when there is an understanding of 
the relationship between values that have become personal and 
value judgments encountered in actual working conditions. 


This conflict between the values of small social units or between 
the values of small social units and those of larger organizations 
could be schematically represented somewhat as follows. Figure 4 
could represent the loyalties of a typical American factory worker 
in 1946. He will have definite loyalties to his family; these may 
conflict with his loyalties to his union (as, for example, when his 
family suffers if he goes out on strike) ; the loyalties to his union 
may oppose some loyalty and identification he may have to the 
industry in which he works; the precepts he has subscribed to as 
a Christian he will find at times contradicted by racial discrimina- 
Union Public allegiance 
Discrimination " 


Religion (^* 


FIG. 4. Conflict of values and identifications. 

tion which he may practice or condone; if he thinks of the con- 
sumers' welfare or of the progress of the "nation as a whole" he 
may feel that some of the organized pressures which he has to 
exert along with other workers in order to maintain or improve 
his position as a worker are in conflict with the over-all welfare of 
the public of which he is a member, and so on. Just what con- 
flicts become emphasized, what degrees of overlapping in values 
occur, what identifications are strongest at the moment will be 
likely to vary enormously with the changing demands of situa- 
tions. In brief, there is no clear-cut overlapping of the values that 
have become part of him. 

By contrast, in a situation where there is no contradiction either 
between the values of different groups or between the values of 
single groups and a larger social organization, the possibility 
exists of complete overlapping so that what is socially important 
can and will become personally important and what is personally 
important can and will be socially important. The schematic pic- 
ture would then be somewhat as in Figure 5. 

It is clear from all this that the common cliche "human nature 
can't be changed" has no basis in fact. "Human nature" is incon- 
ceivable unless it develops in some social environment. Any social 


environment includes values or norms which vary in their uni- 
formity and their duration. What the individual is and what he 
feels himself to be are largely conditioned by the particular con- 

FIG. 5. Overlapping of values and identifications. 

stellation of values he learns and that become a part of him. To 
begin with, "human nature" as represented by any single indi- 
vidual or any group of individuals is not something that follows 
any fixed pattern laid down by inexorable laws of nature; it is, 
rather, a complex of potentialities subject to enormous differentia- 
tions, emerging in new forms and evolving to new adjustments in 
a constantly changing world. 


1. ALLPORT, G. W., The psychology of participation, PsychoL Rev., 1945, 53, 


2. AUDIENCE RESEARCH INSTITUTE, INC., Increasing Profits with Continuous Audi- 

ence Research, New York: Am. Book, 1941; reprinted by permission of G. H. 

3. BUCK, P. S., Tal{ About Russia with Masha Scott, New York: John Day, 

copyright 1945. 

4. CANTRIL, H., The prediction of social events, /. Abnorm. & Soc. Psychol., 1938, 

33, 364-89. 

5. The Invasion from Mars, Princeton: Univ. Press, 1940. 

6. The Psychology of Social Movements, New York: Wiley, 1941. 

7. How the Miners Feel, unpublished report, Princeton, 1943. 

8. CARLYLE, T., Sartor Resartus, Oxford: Clarendon, copyright 1913; first pub- 

lished in Fraser's Magazine, 183334. 

9. CENSUS, BUREAU OF, Industrial Distribution of the Nation's Labor Force: 1870 

to 1930, October 23, 1938. 

10. CENTERS, R., Psychological aspects of socio-economic stratification: an enquiry 

into the nature of class, Princeton Univ.: thesis to be published. 

11. COOLEY, C. H., Social Process, New York: Scribner's, 1918. 


12. DAVIS, A., B. B. GARDNER, and M. R. GARDNER, Deep South, Chicago: Univ. 

Press, copyright 1941. 

13. DOBB, M., Soviet Planning and Labor in Peace and War, New York: Inter- 

national, 1943. 

14. FLUGEL, J. C., The Psychology of Clothes, London: Hogarth, copyright 1930. 

15. FRIEDRICH, G., Miss U.S.S.R., New York: International. 

16. GRINKER, R. R., and J. P. SPIEGEL, Men Under Stress, Philadelphia: Blakiston, 

17. War Neuroses, Philadelphia: Blakiston, 1945. 

18. HOLT, R. R., Studies in the Psychology of Names, thesis on file Princeton Univ. 

Library, 1939. 

19. HURLOCK, E. B., Motivation in fashion, Arch. PsychoL, 1929, 17, no. 111. 

20. JOHNSON, H., The Secret of Soviet Strength, New York: Workers Library, 

copyright 1943. 

21. LABOR, DEPARTMENT OF, Incentive-Wage Plans and Collective Bargaining, 

Washington: 1942, Bull. 717. 

22. LEVY-BRUHL, L., How Natives Thin\, London: Allen and Unwin, copyright 


23. LEWIN, K., The Relative Effectiveness of a Lecture Method and a Method of 

Group Decision for Changing Food Habits, State Univ. Iowa, Child Welfare 
Research Station, 1942. 

24. Mr. Lincoln's formula, Fortune, February 1944, 143-206. 

25. LINCOLN, J. F., Intelligent Selfishness and Manufacturing, Cleveland: Lincoln 

Electric Co., 1942. 

26. LITTLEPAGE, J. D., and D. BESS, In Search of Soviet Gold, New York: Harcourt, 

Brace, 1937. 

27. MACDONALD, L., Labor Problems and the American Scene, New York: Harper, 

copyright 1938. 

28. MANGUM, W. R., Class and Status Determinants within the Negro Caste, thesis 

on file Princeton Univ. Library, 1946. 

29. MAULDIN, B., Up Front, New York: Henry Holt, copyright 1945. 

30. MCGREGOR, D., Conditions of effective leadership in the industrial organization, 

/. Consult. Psychol, 1944, 8, 55-63. 

31. MOLOTOV, V. M., What is Stakhanovism? , New York: International, copyright 


32. MYRDAL, G., 'An American Dilemma, New York: Harper, copyright 1944. 


Studies in Personnel Policy, No. 68, published by The Conference Board, 
247 Park Avenue, New York 17, N. Y., 1945. 

34. NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL, Fatigue of Workers Its Relation to Industrial 

Problems, New York: Reinhold, copyright 1941. 

35. New Yor^ Times, March 18, 1942, statement by President on ordering Mac- 

Arthur to leave the Philippines. 

36. April 26, 1946, order issued by McNarney to all unit commanders of 

American troops in occupied Germany. 

37. NEWELL, T. E., Ncuropsychiatry in the Japanese Army, /. Am. Med. Assoc., 

1944, 126, 373 f. 

38. Reader's Digest, June 1937, 108, anonymous. 


39. ROETHLISBERGER, F. J., and W. J. DICKSON, Management and the Worker, 

Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press, copyright 1943. 

40. RUBINSTEIN, S., Soviet psychology in wartime, Phil, and Phenom. Res., 1944, 5, 


41. SHERIF, M., The Psychology of Social Norms, New York: Harper, 1936. 

42. STALIN, J., The Statyanov Movement in the Soviet Union, New York: Work- 

ers Library, copyright 1935. 

43. VEBLEN, T., The Theory of the Leisure Class, New York: Modern Library, 

copyright 1934; quotations by permission of Viking Press. 

44. WARD, H. R, The Soviet Spirit, New York: International, copyright 1944. 

45. WATSON, G., Work satisfaction, in Industrial Conflict: A Psychological Inter- 

pretation (G. W. Hartmann and T. Newcomb, eds.), New York: Cordon, 
1939, ch. 6. 

46. WATSON, W. T., Division of Labor: A Study in the Sociology and the Social 

Psychology of Wor1{ Satisfaction, Ph.D. dissertation, Univ. Chicago, 1930. 

47. WILSON, N. F., Charlie Wilson, businessman, Adventures in Business, 1944, II. 


The ego cannot be regarded as a fixed, rigid, or permanent en- 
tity. For no matter how well formed or "integrated" the ego may 
seem to be, it can be and sometimes is considerably altered by 
stresses and strains and upheavals of one sort or another. These 
pressures may be due either to the impact of concrete situations 
which have various degrees of compellingness, or they may be 
rooted in the physical organism and due to motivational (instinc- 
tual) tensions or to organic disturbances. Even though an indi- 
vidual builds up a relatively well-formed ego in the course of life, 
even though he may have a number of firmly established ego- 
attitudes which determine or affect his judgment and behavior, 
even though his particular constellation of ego-involved values 
has a fairly stable continuity of personal identity, and even 
though the individual experiences the continuous flow of his own 
identity from day to day and from year to year, and others around 
him have consistent expectations as to what he will or will not do 
under various conditions in spite of all this sufficient pressure 
of one kind or another can break down the ego in varying degrees. 

There will, of course, be wide individual differences in the par- 
ticular way any given person is affected by the same pressure or 
pattern of forces. We have repeatedly pointed out that ego-con- 
stellations vary according to social and personal values and that 
they vary not only in their range of inclusiveness but also in their 
intensity. Undeniable individual differences in temperament, abil- 
ity, and organic functions all affect ego stability. Nevertheless, 
the variety of individual differences, whatever their cause, in no 
way alters the fact that the ego can be radically changed; can 
break down; can expand, shrink, dissociate, or regress if a situa- 
tion is so compelling as to be crushing, if the deprivation of an 
instinctual need is so severe as to be "unbearable," or if an organic 



disturbance is so great as to make "normal*' behavior impossible. 
The whole problem of the breakdown of the ego, and we repeat 
again, an ego that is genetically formed, deserves much more de- 
tailed and elaborate consideration than space allows here. But in 
this chapter we can at least indicate with examples, some of the 
circumstances under which the ego is altered in one way or an- 
other, beginning with relatively normal instances and ending with 
pathological cases. 


The child has to learn and does learn that his body is part of 
himself. And he learns the norms that constitute modesty, physi- 
cal attractiveness, and morality. A constellation of values, both 
social and personal, associated with his body its appearance, well- 
being, sanctity become an integral part of the genetically formed 
ego (ch. 7). We feel inferior if our physical attractiveness, 
strength, or poise is not more or less up to standard; we feel em- 
barrassed if we overhear someone say that we smell badly or don't 
keep our fingernails clean. 

In her revealing autobiography [10], Sheila Cousins, a London 
prostitute, pointed clearly to the distinction between her body as 
an integral part of her person and her body as something men 

I have moments when I realize that I am a person to no one, that 
to the male I am just a body, to the policeman a chance of promotion, 
to the rest simply a problem. [2] 

However lofty their protestations, men were, in the end, only after 
my body. [10, 145] 

"I wasn't a good prostitute," she writes. "I hadn't sufficient de- 
tachment from what I was doing to be able to pretend feeling for 
my clients ... the act of sex I could go through because / hardly 
seemed to be taking fart In it. It was merely something happen- 
ing to me, while my mind drifted inconsequentially away. In- 
deed, // was scarcely happening even to me: it was happening to 
something lying on a bed that had a vague connection with me, 
while I was calculating whether I could afford a new coat or 


impatiently counting sheep jumping over a gate!' [10, 150 f., 
italics ours] 

Personal interviews with ten prostitutes in New York City 
confirmed Cousins' observations that, when participating in the sex 
act as a prostitute, a woman, as a person f does not usually seem to 
be involved. 1 Of the ten young women interviewed, only two said 
that they put "themselves" into the sex act when being paid for it. 
Both of them described themselves as "over-sexed." For the other 
eight, any "enjoyment" was only a pretense put on for business 
reasons. Here are some typical statements from the conversations 
with prostitutes: 

The less personal you become the easier it is on you. 

I think I can honestly say that any emotions I might display to a 
man are just pretense. / never become aroused. Afterwards I am 
tired and a great deal disgusted with the horrible habits men acquire. 
But I guess I am no better than they are or I wouldn't be with them. 

I almost always pretend that I am having some sort of response. 
After all these men are paying money to be kidded. The least I can 
do is see to it that they are not cheated. How good an act do I put on ? 
I suppose all the things we do in this are acting to some extent. I kid 
and laugh with them before I get down to real business, this makes 
them think I'm a pretty good sport, but believe me sometimes I could 
choke them. I don't care what anyone says, it's not as easy as some 
people think. 

Do I put myself into it? No, I don't. Any man who has to go out 
and pay for it, is not worth the effort it would take to try and respond. 

// doesn't mean anything at all to me. How could it mean anything 
when you make your living at it? This is a business just like any 
other. You can't be sentimental in this racket. The men want you 
to go down and that is all. So you get as much as you can out of 
them and put as little as you can into it. 

But when these prostitutes were with their husbands (and quite 
a number of them were married) or went out with their sweet- 
hearts or boy friends, the sex act took on a very different charac- 
ter; the women reported that they took part in it as individuals, 
that it was happening to them, not just to their bodies. 

1 These interviews were all made privately and confidentially by a young woman 
personally acquainted with the prostitutes. Her assistance was obtained through 
the kind interest of a New York physician. 


Sheila Cousins reports her feelings after she first met Richard 
whom she later married. 

I liked Richard. I felt at once he wasn't xmt to buy me. That first 
day he got me a pair of gunmetal stockings and a pair of gloves after 
lunch, but I knew that there would be no account to settle in a 
fumbling taxi going home. There was a friendly shyness about every- 
thing he said or did. ... I discovered that he was not only in love 
with me, he respected me. I think he was the first man who ever had. 
[10, 136 f.] 

In a life where sex is merely a commodity, casually traded over the 
counterpane daily, the faintest spark of personal affection grows to be 
worth a fortune. [10, 182] 

The same thing appears in the conversations with New York 
prostitutes. When they go out with their lovers or boy friends, 
they indulge in characteristic feminine resistances. Their egos are 
involved, and they want to defend them with the feminine wiles 
appropriate to the norms of their society. And if they do have 
intercourse, their reaction is more complete, they feel involved. 

When I meet a man whom I would really like as a lover, I flirt 
with him. If you choose a man, that does not mean he is necessarily 
attracted to you. So it is only natural that you have to assert yourself 
in order to interest him in you. When I have finished with a man 
who pays me, I feel tired. I feel like leaving him as soon as possible. 
But when I am with my boy-friend it's so different. He comes to my 
house. I always meet the other men outside. When my boy-friend 
comes we make a real time of it. We eat and drink and fool around. 
We talk and have fun. I flirt with him for I want him to keep 
interested in me. 

I have many affairs with men who do not pay me. // a man is nice 
and I am attracted to him I see no reason why I should not indulge 
myself. I don't believe I flirt with them openly but I do try to attract 
them. Doesn't every woman try to attract men to her with what she 
considers her feminine guiles? As for any such affair being auto- 
matic, that is for animals, not people. 

The same lack of ego-involvement the separation of the physi- 
cal needs of the body from the self can be seen from the accounts 
of men describing sex relations they have had with women who 
were not their sweethearts or wives. Here is an account of the sex 


life of officers and men overseas with the U. S. Army during 
World War II written for us by an American officer who spent 
nearly four years abroad. 

During my time overseas I talked intimately with many officers and 
men of the American Army. Most of them were in their twenties. 
Quite a number were married, many not long before they had been 
ordered abroad. Although some of these marriages were either on the 
rocks or obviously about to break up, the majority of the boys seemed 
very much in love with their wives. They would talk to me for hours 
about their wives, their children if they had any, and their plans for 
the future of their family. 

Frequently, however, the morning after one of these talks, they 
would tell me in jocose fashion about some gal they had slept with 
the night before. There was no embarrassment whatever about such 
confessions and probably a few hours later they would be telling me 
again how much they loved their wives. 

The explanation, I am sure, lies in the complete dissociation in the 
minds of these particular soldiers between their wives and families, on 
the one hand t and the necessity of relieving their glandular pressures 
on the other. In their eyes, there is no connection between these two 
things. While the man might sleep temporarily and perforce by 
necessity with sluts and prostitutes, there is never any doubt in his 
mind where his love and major values lie: with his wife and his home. 
In following the necessitous path of extramarital relationships, he does 
not feel that he is doing his wife any harm (short of contracting a 
disease), and feels quite clear that his behavior has nothing to do with 
what will be his life when he returns home again. This is not true, 
of course, for all soldiers, but did seem to be the state of affairs for 
most of those who indulged in extramarital relations. 

All of this points again to the ancient and well-recognized 
conclusion that the physical sex act can be regarded as an act of 
"love" in proportion to the extent the partners merge their egos, 
identify themselves with each other. Van de Velde has expressed 
it in his famous book Ideal Marriage: 

What husband and wife who love one another seek to achieve in 
their most intimate bodily communion, and, whether consciously or 
unconsciously, recognize as the purpose of such communion is: a 
means of expression that makes them One. [42, 321] 



Under certain conditions an individual may merge his own ego 
with another person's, feel that he as a single identifiable person 
has ceased to exist and that he belongs to and is a part of some- 
one else. In the next chapter we cite illustrations from literature 
of this mergence of one ego with another, of lovers who, together, 
feel as one but who, alone or separated, feel personally torn apart. 
This same melting away of the ego is also experienced by certain 
creative artists who "lose themselves" in their work. The dancer, 
Martha Graham, has said, for example, that an artist must first 
"destroy himself if he is to be creative. [5, 142] In elaborating 
this statement of Martha Graham's, a commentator writes: 

It was not merely a matter of sloughing off this manner and that 
technique. A whole self had to be danced out and away. [5, 142] 

The ego may also temporarily "break down" under the influence 
of alcohol or various drugs. There is an apt definition of the 
"superego" as "that portion of the personality which is soluble in 
alcohol." Since we will indicate later (pp. 492 /.) that there seems 
to us no reason to use the term superego as something distinct 
from the ego, we can just as well apply this definition to the ego 
itself. Everyone knows that when a man gets drunk he is likely 
to say or do things which surprise those who know him well. 
After consuming sufficient alcohol, a "gentleman" or "lady" may 
clearly lose some of his normal behavioral characteristics because 
some of the restraining influences of his ego personal or social 
values which are part of himself have collapsed. In the inter- 
views with prostitutes, we have seen how these young women 
often dissociated their bodies from their persons in their work. 
The prostitutes were also asked if alcohol had any effect on the 
ease with which they could give their bodies to a customer. 
Among those who drank, the consensus of opinion was that a few 
drinks before intercourse for business did facilitate separation of 
the "self" from the body. Here are some of their statements. 

Drinking to me is a boon. I naturally am a reticent person, and 
alcohol brings me out of myself. I become quite bold. 


Another reports: 

Alcohol makes me feel like being more entertaining. Some of the 
girls get all ginned up, so that they can take anything that comes 

Another girl said: 

This job of mine is not as easy as some people think, so a little nip 
now and then does the trick. 

Those who have studied inveterate drinkers known as alcoholics 
seem generally agreed that the underlying reasons for the addic- 
tion is its acceptance by the individual as a method of escaping or 
overcoming some unpleasant situation or emotional conflict, or its 
use to make it possible for an individual to play some role denied 
him in normal life. [33, ch. 12] A penetrating analysis of alco- 
holics has been written by Bales who states that 

The alcoholic is a man divided against himself. No matter how 
genuinely he may agree with those who condemn him, there is another 
part of him which fights back . . . the drinker becomes more and 
more isolated, "desperately alone," "misunderstood," more and more 
bound up with his own circular reasoning and self-destructive tend- 
ency. . . . The alcoholic "loses his perspective," as some of them put 
it, and finds himself "bucking the whole world." [4, 16] 

It might be mentioned in passing and in connection with the 
function of groups as described in chapter 10 and the overlapping 
of identifications discussed in chapter 11 that the most successful 
cures for alcoholics seem to be those which enable the individual 
to reintegrate his broken ego "with a social group of which he 
feels truly and basically a part, a group which understands him 
thoroughly and sympathetically." [4, 17] The current success of 
the organization known as Alcoholics Anonymous seems due, for 
example, almost entirely to the fact that the members of the 
organization are all ex-alcoholics, that "the new candidate in such 
a group intuitively recognizes that he is among friends" [18] and 
that in such a group "the alcoholic obtains recognition and re- 
sponse through the admission of thoughts and activities which, 
before, he had been desperately trying to hide, even from him- 


sqlf." [18] In summarizing the success of Alcoholics Anonymous, 
Bales writes: 

As a member of a solidary group in which the desired ideas are 
held as group convictions, they come home to the individual with a 
personalized, tailored-to-fit quality, and with an emotional intensity 
and repetition impossible to duplicate in any other way. In the matrix 
of a concrete group with which the individual is closely identified, and 
in which he has a particular role, the ideas and desired behavior pat- 
terns can be thoroughly integrated with his social goals, tied up imme- 
diately and directly with those emotions and needs which can only be 
activated and satisfied in a social context. [4, 21] 

In describing the use of the drug pentothal as an aid in relieving 
neuroses created by war experiences, Grinker and Spiegel speak 
of "the sedative effect of the drug on the ego" [22, 436]. and state 
that it "serves to desensitize the ego." [383] Without necessarily 
accepting the psychoanalytic implications of these authors, we find 
their description of the effect of the drug highly pertinent to our 
discussion here. For they point out how pentothal, combined with 
intelligent psychotherapy, can bring together different portions of 
the self into a more normally integrated ego. Under the influence 
of pentothal "the relationship between regressive dependent needs 
and self-respecting ego forces and even overcompensations often 
becomes quite clear as the different portions of the personality are 
expressed in associations." [391] 

Under the influence of the drug and during the process of abreac- 
tion, although not fully conscious, the ego, devoid of the stress of 
anxiety, synthesizes some and often much of the important isolated 
and pathogenic material into its main body. It is as if the emotions or 
the memories had been separated from the active ego forces as in a 
hysterical dissociation, because they had been too threatening to the 
ego's stability or productive of terrifying and unendurable anxiety. 
[22, 392 f.] 


If an individual is long denied the satisfaction of an instinctual 
need, then there is a considerably greater chance that he will 
transgress the established norms which under more usual condi- 


tions are part of his ideas of good conduct and with which he 
would normally identify himself. Enforced sexual continence 
may lead to such results as obscene acts and homosexuality; pro- 
longed hunger may lead to theft or to some other form of anti- 
social or at least undignified behavior. 

Bill Mauldin, in describing the "abject poverty and hunger of 
the Italian refugees" encountered by the United States Armies in 
Italy, has pointed out the very unladylike behavior of old Italian 
women under such conditions. 

It would take a pretty tough guy not to feel his heart go out to the 
shivering, little six-year-old squeaker who stands barefoot in the mud, 
holding a big tin bucket so the dogface can empty his mess kit into it. 
Many soldiers, veterans of the Italy campaign and thousands of similar 
buckets, still go back and sweat out the mess line for an extra chop 
and hunk of bread for those little kids. But there is a big difference 
between the ragged, miserable infantryman who waits with his mess 
kit, and the ragged, miserable civilian who waits with his bucket. 
The doggie knows where his next meal is coming from. That makes 
him a very rich man in this land where hunger is so fierce it maizes 
animals out of respectable old ladies who should be wearing cameos 
and having tea parties instead of fighting one another savagely for a 
soldier's scraps. [31, 66 ff. f italics ours] 

Another American soldier told how norms of decency broke 
down in Italy and Sicily to such an extent that formerly respectable 
women sent children out on the streets to solicit Allied soldiers 
for them, to circumvent the stringent penalties imposed on public 
prostitution. These observations are particularly significant since 
the soldier who reported them had lived in Italy for some time 
before the war, spoke fluent Italian, had seen the country under 
normal conditions and knew that the behavior he observed was 
nothing "typical" of Italy but due to the extraordinary conditions 
created by war. 

While in Palermo, I saw little children soliciting trade for their 
sisters, cousins, aunts, or mothers. They would stop soldiers on the 
street with such remarks as "Hey, Joe, wanna gal, verra clean, only 
one dollar," or they would use some American slang to mention per- 
versions that made the trade sound more interesting. In one instance, 
I observed a mother with her daughter carrying on "trade" in a single 


dark room on a squalid street on the outskirts of the city with another 
G.I. outside, waiting. From all accounts I could gather, these women 
had originally come from the servant class who now found a more 
profitable way to spend their time. On other occasions, I encountered 
women of higher class means inviting officers to their homes, hoping 
to acquire some political favor or food. Their "trade" was more 
formal and practiced with little publicity. War widows or those who 
had their husbands in Allied prison camps were especially among the 
latter type. On still other occasions, one found young girls who were 
out to have a "good time" and the disruption of family life spread a 
sense of "devil may care" attitude. Most of these women had been 
bombed out of their homes and had lost their cherished possessions. 
Many had had relatives killed. They had been forced out of their 
normal home environments and the fear of ostracism from the social 
pattern indigenous to that environment no longer existed. It was no 
wonder they had become cynical, hard-bitten and had chosen this pro- 
fession out of economic necessity. I had spent considerable time in 
Italy before the war. What I saw during the war was a real shock to 
me because it was so very different from what I had previously 
known. 2 

A German physician, once an inmate of the Belsen concentration 
camp, has reported how the ordinary self-respecting and law- 
abiding citizens of normal life "resorted to cannibalism to avoid 
starvation." The account of his testimony states: 

He told how human beings fought like animals for food, how they 
carried human flesh around in their pockets, and how the SS (Nazi 
Elite Guard) ordered those who practiced cannibalism hanged or 
beaten to death. [35] 

Further evidence that the ego is not a mystical entity, that it is 
related to the organism and affected by physical deprivation is 
seen in changes of personality such as feelings of unusual exhilira- 
tion and well-being, loss of judgment, emotional outbursts, the 
impairment of critical ability and self-criticism, if an individual 
breathes air which lacks the amount of oxygen normally required 
(Anoxia). [40, 585 f.] Recent studies have also shown that even 
a slight deficiency of vitamin B has marked influences on a per- 

2 These observations were given us by R. V. Botsford, Princeton '48, who was 
with the American Army in Italy. 


son's behavior and the conduct he would normally feel befitting 
to him. Summarizing a number of studies, Shock reports: 

One of the symptoms of even slight vitamin B deficiency in human 
subjects is their increased irritability, moodiness, lack of cooperation 
and "meanness." With more severe B-vitamin deficiency such mental 
states as apathy, depression, and emotional instability have often been 
observed. A most striking study is that of Williams, ct al. (1942) 
who restricted the B-vitamin (thiamin) intake of eleven women to 
.45 mg. daily, which is an amount little, if any, below that obtained 
in many American diets. Within six or eight weeks the subjects 
began to show such symptoms of emotional instability as irritability, 
moodiness, quarrelsomeness, lack of cooperation, and vague fears pro- 
gressing to agitation and mental depression. When thiamin was 
restored to their diets, or even when riboflavin was reduced in the 
presence of adequate thiamin, no such symptoms were observed. 8 


If an individual has identified himself, made part of himself, 
certain social values which are suddenly and completely upset or 
destroyed by some major cataclysm, then that portion of the ego 
composed of those values may itself be destroyed, and the indi- 
vidual may exhibit behavior quite out of keeping with what he or 
his friends would regard as normal or right for him. Two illus- 
trations, both dealing with the collapse of norms in Germany as 
a result of Allied advances, will suffice here to show how behavior 
can be radically altered when normal ego-involving standards are 
suddenly withdrawn. 

A vivid description of the looting of a German castle was written 
for us by Lewis F. Gittler. The important part of the story for our 
present interests is put in italics. It shows how respectable middle- 
class Germans in one moment condemned the looting of the castle 
by others, even by other Germans who happened to be peasants, 
but in the next moment themselves indulged in looting when they 

8 The study referred to by Shock is [45], 


learned that there was something they wanted badly and could 
now steal without fear of legal action or particular social dis- 
approval. 4 

Near the Weser River east of Paderborn was a large modernized 
castle dominating a town of about 350 inhabitants. A cavalry recon- 
naissance squadron on its way to the river passed by the castle about 
8 P.M. one evening. There had been no American troops in the town 
as yet and there was no resistance on the part of the Germans. It was 
an out of the way town, reachable only by a dirt road thru a forest. 
As the column of jeeps, half-tracks and armored cars passed the castle, 
they decided to spend the night there. The major sent in an officer 
to negotiate with the Baroness. He asked for two floors for his troops. 
She could remain in her own quarters and the upper two floors. She 
began protesting, complaining it would not be feasible and generally 
became such a nuisance about the thing that the Major ordered the 
castle evacuated by its occupants in two hours. The old Baroness left 
and the toughened reconnaissance troops moved in. The castle was 
jampacked with goods and clothes and furniture and foods of all 
kinds. The troops disturbed nothing outside of the wine cellar. 
There they found 1,000 bottles of French champagne and cognac. 
Until 4 A.M. they drank and finally left at dawn with every bottle of 
liquor, camera, souvenirs, etc. At dawn, the townspeople woke up to 
find the Americans gone. Many came back from the fields where 
they had hidden in terror. There was no authority left in the town. 
The old Baroness (known locally as the Alte Hexe, "old witch,") was 
in another chateau about 15 miles away where Army trucks had taken 
her and her servants. The Baroness had been the power and the 
mainstay in that village. Her grounds and acreage had about 200 
Poles and Russian slave laborers. 

I had come in with the reconnaissance squadron and after they left 
I stayed behind. At about 6 A.M., the Russians came into the courtyard 
and seeing no one around went into the castle and came out loaded 
down with clothing. The Poles were next. They went in and came 
out with hundreds of jars of conserved foods. The German peasants 
went in next and carted out lamps and bedding. In the house where 
I was staying were several refugees from Krefeld and Duesseldorf. 
They were of the substantial middle class and had used this as their 
summer house. One was an art dealer, another a soap manufacturer, 

4 This incident was first reported to us by Donald V. McGranahan, former 
major, AUS, who suggested we get in touch with Mr. Gittlcr. 


another a publisher. We watched the looting going on and as it 
became more and more intense, these Germans were outraged by the 
filthy Poles and the thieving Russians and the stupid peasants. They 
talked about dignity and honor and how Americans should prevent 
this sort of thing and if the Alte Hexe comes back there would be 
hell to pay. Just then, the sister of one of the men in the house came 
in breathlessly saying, "Someone just opened the big room with the 
silverware!' It had been known in the town that the hexe had thou- 
sands of Solingen flat ware in a special room, and all kinds of kitchen 
utensils, boxes and boxes of them. The soap manufacturer and the 
art dealer nodded and a moment later muttered something about going 
downstairs. I saw them go into the castle with a dozen other re- 
spectable-looping Germans. A minute later they came out with their 
arms full of canopeners, kjiives, ]or\$, scissors and pots. The cycle of 
looting was completed and the castle was quiet again with only a few 
Poles scavenging around. 

Members of the German army during World War II were 
generally regarded as highly disciplined troops, with great love 
and respect for the Fatherland. However, documents found on 
German troops, captured during the last months of 1944 after the 
Germans had been pushed back on their own territory and when 
it was becoming clear that defeat was inevitable, revealed warnings 
from German commanders against looting by German soldiers on 
German territory. The documents indicate in no uncertain terms 
that the considerable looting going on during that period was 
entirely inconsistent with the duty and honor of a German soldier. 8 

In the last chapter we noted that some individuals identify them- 
selves so completely with certain established values that they prefer 
to die the death of a martyr or a hero rather than live in a world 
in which these values are taken away. Such people refuse to 
compromise, and by destroying themselves they preserve what they 
regard as their integrity. For them there is no breakdown, no 
dissociation, no alteration of the ego. The implication is that those 
who do not follow the logical course of the martyr must make 
readjustments if they are to live in peace with themselves. As 
Dublin and Bunzel remark in their study of suicide [11, 281] "self- 

6 The writers wish to thank Donald V. McGranahan for sending these captured 


destruction seems the only solution of intolerable difficulties," and 
they cite notes left behind by suicides which show how impossible 
it has been for them either to alter themselves or escape from 

Bettelheim has described the case of a prominent German 
politician who had been kept in a concentration camp by the Nazis 
and who saw that adaptation to the camp was only possible if a 
basic change occurred in his personality and value relationships. 
The man killed himself rather than live on as essentially another 

He declared that according to his experience nobody could live in 
the camp longer than five years without changing his attitudes so 
radically that he no longer could be considered the same person he 
used to be. He asserted that he did not see any point in continuing 
to live once his real life consisted in being a prisoner in a concentra- 
tion camp, that he could not endure developing those attitudes and 
behaviors he saw developing in all old prisoners. He therefore had 
decided to commit suicide on the sixth anniversary of his being 
brought into the camp. His fellow prisoners tried to watch him 
carefully on this day, but nevertheless he succeeded. [7, 438] 


Comparatively few individuals, however, choose self-destruction 
to self-modification. The more likely effect of extreme stress 
caused by pressures from the environment is some change of the 
ego formed during the course of life. This may be clear and 
drastic or it may be relatively hidden and subtle. Numerous 
examples of such alterations have been observed during the past 
few years under the many varieties of social upheaval concomitant 
with the rapid social change in most Western societies. 

From studies made on the psychological effects of unemploy- 
ment, for example, it can be readily discerned that if an individual 
is not provided the opportunity or right to work, the constellation 
of values constituting his ego may deteriorate radically, causing a 
shift in his aspiration levels and a breakdown of former group 
loyalties. We should emphasize that in this discussion we are not 


generalizing that these are the inevitable effects of unemployment 
and depression alone, but that unemployment and depression 
sometimes can and do cause these effects as well as others that do 
not concern us here. And obviously, how any single individual 
will react to unemployment will depend in part upon personality 
factors such as temperament and on the length and circumstances 
of unemployment. 

Autobiographies written by unemployed people in Poland in the 
early 1930's and reported by Zawadski and Lazarsfeld [46] vividly 
reveal the "feelings of degradation and superfluousness" experi- 
enced. A youth writes, for example, 

I become something absolutely superfluous in my own family. I am 
nineteen years old, and I define my part quite clearly as that of a 
sponger. [46, 240] 

An unemployed man tells how he no longer feels that he is an 
integral part of society: 

Of the many unemployed who have committed suicide lately, many 
did it, as I believe, under the influence of the fixed idea that they had 
become superfluous in the world. Really, every unemployed person 
is excluded from the creative life. For instance I had, as long as I 
worked, although I did it for the wages, the definite feeling that I 
participated in the antlike, productive activity of mankind. [46, 240 f.] 

The effect of this ostracism on the normal feeling of self-respect is 
clear. One of the unemployed writes, for example, 

I look for a job. / bow with servility, I as\, 1 beg, I humble myself 
and lose my ego. I become a beast, a humiliated beast, excluded from 
the realm of society. [46, 238, italics ours] 

Another says: 

Life has made a coward of me. Sometimes I would like to bend 
myself in an humble way before the world and beg, "Buy me! Buy 
me!" [46, 238] 

The effect of unemployment on one's own conception of his 
social status and his loss of status in the eyes of others is exempli- 
fied by the statement of a 43-year-old mason who wrote: 


How hard and humiliating it is to bear the name of an unemployed 
man. When I go out, I cast down my eyes because I feel myself 
wholly inferior. When I go along the street, it seems to me that I 
can't be compared with an average citizen, that everybody is pointing 
at me with his finger. I instinctively avoid meeting anyone. Former 
acquaintances and friends of better times are no longer so cordial. 
They greet me indifferently, when we meet. They no longer offer me 
a cigarette and their eyes seem to say, "You are not worth it, you don't 
work." [46, 239] 

After reviewing numerous studies made on the psychological 
effects of unemployment (1938) Eisenberg and Lazarsfeld point 

. . . that the last stage of unemployment consists of a general nar- 
rowing of activities as well as of outlook on life. There is also a 
narrowing of wants and needs. Yet there is a limit beyond which this 
narrowing cannot go; otherwise a collapse occurs. [12, 378] 

The effect of unemployment on the status relationship held by 
different family members provide particularly neat illustrations of 
the way an individual's role and position can change if he loses one 
of his main and traditional functions, in this case if the father in 
an American family is unable to carry out his role as the bread- 
winner. Summarizing the analysis of 65 case studies collected in 
Newark during the depression of the early 1930's, Stouffer and 
Lazarsfeld, in their monograph on The Family in the Depression 
[41] state the following "hypotheses" concerning the shifts in 
family loyalties and authorities: 

1. If an unemployed father loses authority with his wife he is very 
likely to lose authority with his children. 

2. Conversely, if an unemployed father loses authority with his 
children he may or may not lose authority with his wife. 

3. If the father is unemployed, an adolescent daughter is more likely 
to rebel against deprivations than an adolescent son, who gets unusual 
ego satisfaction if he can be treated like a grownup as the result of 
even slight contributions to the family budget. 

4. The presence of an unemployed father in the home, unless there 
is great irritability and conflict, tends to increase his companionship 
and authority with very young children. 


5. If the mother takes a job, after the father loses his, authority over 
the children tends to be transferred to the mother. 

6. The conflict between father and son tends to be greater if the son 
returns home unemployed after a period of employment than if the 
son had never been employed. 

7. If the father is employed and especially if he has some influence 
with his friends outside of the family, a depression tends to increase 
the dependence of a son on the father, since such a father is likely to 
be the best means of getting the boy a job. 

8. Authority based on categorical orders and punishment is more 
likely to deteriorate, in the family of an unemployed father, than 
authority based on intimacy and an attempt at mutual understanding. 
[41, 116 /.] 

In Angell's The Family Encounters the Depression, dozens of 
examples can be found of the restriction of the ego due to unem- 
ployment. The following case, taken almost at random, describes 
what happened to one of the older sons of a family who, together 
with his father and sister who were once wage earners, had lost 
his job: [2] 

He has completely lost his role. He is unable to face what he con- 
siders an exposure. He considers himself a failure. His inadequacy 
stands revealed to himself. He has previously sensed it, but never 
actually experienced it. Without his shield or a good job he cannot 
face the rest of the world. Occasionally he "talks big" but has lost all 
his braggadocio. Very often he talks deprecatingly of himself. Some- 
times he will sit for hours and do nothing but stare. He lacks initia- 
tive of any sort. He hates activity of any kind, hates to look for work. 

Sometimes he will tirade against every one the government, church, 
home, friends. One feels a tension, a conflict, a strain when he is 
about. Sometimes when this strain is too great he "goes to pieces" in 
a most pitiable, horrible way. All his inhibitions, his restraints, are 
lifted and he reveals all his hurts, his disappointments, frustrations 
till it is more than others can bear. He once became involved in such 
a scene in the presence of several young nieces. All the children were 
weeping and utterly torn with sympathy. He is now incapable of 
making the least decision for himself for instance, to wear or not to 
wear a coat is a source of conflict. [2, 201 /.] 

Many other effects of unemployment on ego standards and 
values can be listed from a review of the literature on the subject. 


A common finding is that levels of aspiration are definitely low- 
ered [26]; some unemployed who never before touched liquor 
may take to drink [46, 237 /.]; some may lose all former respect 
for those whom they once regarded as their superiors and their 
bosses [242f.]; some lose all national loyalties [249]; and, if unem- 
ployed workers are not highly organized, class-conscious, or in 
some way cared for by their union or other group, their solidarity 
with other workers is apt to deteriorate and to be replaced by 
feelings of hostility toward each other and by individualistic 
competition and the like. [244 f.] 

In their article, Personality Under Social Catastrophe, Allport, 
Bruner, and Jandorf summarize an analysis of 90 life histories of 
persons who experienced various degrees of persecution and suffer- 
ing in Germany after the Nazi rise to power on January 30, 
1933. [1] The authors state as one of their summary conclusions: 

Even catastrophic social change does not succeed in effecting radical 
transformations in personality. Before and after disaster, individuals 
are to a large extent the same. In spite of intensification of political 
attitudes (toward extreme opposition) and in spite of growing aware- 
ness and criticism of standards of judgment and evaluation, the basic 
structure of personality persists and, with it, established goal striving, 
fundamental philosophy of life, skills, and expressive behavior. When 
there was change in our subjects, it did not seem to violate the basic 
integrations of the personality but rather to select and reinforce traits 
already present. [1, 19 f.] 

But they also point out in their conclusion that, in addition to the 
stability of these traits: 

Besides aggressive responses, direct or displaced, we find defeat and 
resignation, regression, conformity, adoption of temporary frames of 
security, changes in standards of evaluation, lowering of levels of 
aspiration, heightened in-group feeling, increased fantasy and insula- 
tion, and, above all, increased planning and problem-solving. [1, 20, 
italics ours] 

Now just what "personality" is and just what changes in thought 
and behavior have to take place before personality can be consid- 
ered to have "changed" is a problem we cannot go into here. 
However, we have already cited in previous chapters numerous 


instances of profound alterations in behavior and attitude due to 
new situations in which an individual finds himself. Without in 
the least denying the fact that manifestations of temperament, 
abilities, or organic characteristics often show an amazing con- 
sistency under different conditions, any conception of personality 
which leaves out ego-involvements seems quite inadequate for 
social psychology and, what is more important, quite unsupported 
by the facts of the laboratory and everyday life which show so 
clearly the effect of these ego-involvements in determining be- 
havior. This point of view seems supported by the Allport- 
Bruner-Jandorf study itself. In commenting upon the changed 
attitudes toward National Socialism as the movement became 
more and more powerful and ubiquitous in Germany, the authors 
note "the inevitable desertion of neutral attitudes as the social 
crisis verged into personal catastrophe" [9], and they quote from 
one case study the remark: 

"Everything was appraised according to pro- or anti-Nazi; there was 
simply no possibility of being objective. You had to belong to one 
group. We individualists instinctively felt the loneliness of our posi- 
tion outside any group." [1, 9, italics ours] 

They also point out that "great anxiety and feelings of insecurity 
were practically universal," [11] and that the most frequent cause 
of this anxiety was "uncertainty of future status." [12] Another 
of their findings is that 

As the months of persecution went on, 42 per cent of the cases for 
whom data are available betrayed an increased fatalism in outlook. 
. . . Others made attempts to come to terms with the situation through 
alterations in their scale of values. ... In some cases, for example, 
moral standards were disturbed. [1, 16, italics ours] 

Such terms as "resignation," "regression," "adoption of temporary 
frames of security," "changes in standards of evaluation," "lower- 
ing of levels of aspiration" obviously have no meaning if the 
implication that these psychological conditions are related to the 
ego is taken away. 

Just what did happen to the egos of German citizens when they 
were put in very extreme situations has been brilliantly described 
by Bettelheim in his report of his own experiences at the German 


concentration camps of Dachau and Buchcnwald and his observa- 
tions and conversations with other inmates. [7] Bettelheim is 
careful to point out that "there were great individual variations'* 
and that his statements must be regarded as generalizations. 
However, it is quite apparent from his account that there were 
limits to individual variations and that generalizations were, there- 
fore, quite possible. 

Summarizing the effect of the initial shock of being taken pris- 
oner and deprived of civil rights, Bettelheim states: 

It seems that most, if not all, prisoners tried to react against the 
initial shock by mustering forces which might prove helpful in sup- 
porting their badly shaken self-esteem. Those groups which found in 
their past life some basis for the erection of such a buttress to their 
endangered egos seemed to succeed. Members of the lower class 
derived a certain satisfaction from the absence of class differences 
among the prisoners. Political prisoners found their importance as 
politicians once more demonstrated by being imprisoned. Members 
of the upper class could exert at least a certain amount of leadership 
among the middle-class prisoners. Members of "anointed" families 
felt in prison as superior to all other human beings as they had felt 
outside of it. [7, 428 f.] 

The initial effort was, then, an attempt to preserve the established 
constellation of ego-attitudes. 

When the prisoners were removed from the prison to the con- 
centration camp, every effort was made by the Gestapo "to break 
the prisoners as individuals." [418] The Gestapo principle was 
"to force the prisoners to feel and act as a group, and not as indi- 
viduals." [434] In pursuance of this policy the Gestapo "insisted 
that none of them [the prisoners] was any better than the others." 
[447] Among other methods of achieving the purpose was 

... the hostage system and the punishment of the whole group for 
whatever a member of it does; not permitting anybody to deviate in 
his behavior from the group norm, whatever this norm may be. [452] 

If a prisoner tried to protect a group, he might have been killed by 
a guard, but if his action came to the knowledge of the camp adminis- 
tration then the whole group was always more severely punished than 
it would have been in the first place. In this way the group came to 


resent the actions of its protector because it suffered under them. The 
protector was thus prevented from becoming a leader, or a martyr, 
around whom group resistance might have been formed. [7, 436] 

In addition to various tortures administered, other methods of 
destroying individuality were systematic and crude attempts to get 
the individual to dissociate himself from established norms and 
values. Prisoners were forced 

... to hit one another, and to defile what the guards considered the 
prisoners' most cherished values. For instance, the prisoners were 
forced to curse their God, to accuse themselves of vile actions, accuse 
their wives of adultery and of prostitution. This continued for hours 
and was repeated at various times. [7, 429] 

Bettelheim noticed that new prisoners who had not yet been 
broken or had not resigned in any way were unusually sensitive 
to any news from the "outside" world which reflected any change 
in their social position. 

Even the smallest change in their former private world attained 
tremendous importance. . . . Their desire to return exactly the person 
who had left was so great that they feared any change, however trifling, 
in the situation they had left. Their worldly possessions should be 
secure and untouched, although they were of no use to them at this 
moment. [7, 439 f.] 

The general feeling seemed to be 

// nothing changes in the world in which I used to live, then 1 shall 
not change, either. . . . The violent reaction against changes in their 
families was then the counterpart of the realization that they were 
changing. What enraged them was probably not only the fact of the 
change, but the change in standing within the family which it im- 
plied. [7, 440, italics ours] 

Bettelheim notes how particularly disturbing and "unforget- 
table" experiences were that could not be related to some existing 
frame of reference. 

It seems that camp experiences which remained within the normal 
frame of reference of a prisoner's life experience were dealt with by 
means of the normal psychological mechanisms. Once the experience 
transcended this frame of reference, the normal mechanisms seemed 


no longer able to deal adequately with it and new psychological 
mechanisms were needed. [433, italics ours] 

The psychological reactions to events which were somewhat more 
within the sphere of the normally comprehensible were decidedly 
different from those to extreme events. It seems that prisoners deal 
with less extreme events in the same way as if they had happened 
outside of the camp. For example, if a prisoner's punishment was not 
of an unusual kind, he seemed ashamed of it, he tried not to speak 
about it, A slap in one's face was embarrassing, and not to be dis- 
cussed. One hated individual guards who had kicked one, or slapped 
one, or verbally abused one much more than the guard who really 
had wounded one seriously. In the latter case one eventually hated 
the Gestapo as such, but not so much the individual inflicting the pun- 
ishment. Obviously this differentiation was unreasonable, but it 
seemed to be inescapable. One felt deeper and more violent aggres- 
sions against particular Gestapo members who had committed minor 
vile acts than one felt against those who had acted in a much more 
terrible fashion. [7, 435] 

As time went on and as one torture followed another, the author 
consciously felt the pressure on his ego and realized the inadequacy 
of established frames for the interpretation of camp experiences, 
and the danger that his body and its daily life might somehow 
become split off or detached from what he really regarded as 
himself. He states: 

If the author should be asked to sum up in one sentence what, all 
during the time he spent in the camp, was his main problem, he 
would say: to safeguard his ego in such a way, that, if by any good 
luc\ he should regain liberty, he would be approximately the same 
person he was when deprived of liberty. He has no doubt that he 
was able to endure the transportation, and all that followed, because 
right from the beginning he became convinced that these horrible 
and degrading experiences somehow did not happen to "him" as a 
subject, but only to "him" as an object. [7, 431] 

This observation was confirmed by others and not limited to 
Bettelheim's own introspection as a psychologist. He writes: 

The importance of this attitude was corroborated by many state- 
ments of other prisoners, although none would go so far as to state 
definitely that an attitude of this type was clearly developed already 


during the time of the transportation. They couched their feelings 
usually in more general terms such as, "The main problem is to 
remain alive and unchanged," without specifying what they meant 
as unchanged. From additional remarks it became apparent that 
what should remain unchanged was individually different and roughly 
covered the person's general attitude and values. [7, 431] 

Bettelheim goes on to describe this detachment he felt: 

It was as if he watched things happening in which he only vaguely 
participated. Later he learned that many prisoners had developed 
this same feeling of detachment, as if what happened really did not 
matter to oneself. [431] 

During the transportation the prisoners developed a state of detach- 
ment, feeling as if what happened did not really happen to them as 
persons. [7, 433 1 italics ours] 

If an individual was unable to keep his ego intact, was unable to 
view what was happening as something not happening to him, 
then the only alternatives were to commit suicide or suffer a break- 
down or dissociation of the ego and a subsequent re-formation that 
made conditions bearable. We have already cited the case of a 
man who was conscious of these alternatives and who chose sui- 
cide as the lesser of the two evils. Bettelheim reports that the 
suicides that did occur were confined mainly to middle-class 
prisoners who were particularly anxious 

. . . that their status as such should be respected in some way. 
What they resented most was to be treated "like ordinary criminals." 
After some time they could not help realizing their actual situation. 
Then they seemed to disintegrate. [7, 427] 

For the majority of prisoners it seemed that this ability to remain 
detached was lost, The Gestapo was successful in breaking down 
individuality. Old norms disappeared, and new ones took their 
place. Bettelheim reports, for example, that 

Prisoners who died under tortures qua prisoners, although martyrs 
to their political conviction, were not considered martyrs. Those who 
suffered due to efforts to protect others were accepted as martyrs. 
[7, 436] 

And he notes that 


... as time went on the difference in the reaction to minor and 
major sufferings slowly seemed to disappear. [437] 

There was a general "regression to infantile behavior" on the 
part of nearly all the prisoners who "asserted their power as a 
group over those prisoners who objected to deviations from normal 
adult behavior." [444] The prisoners began to live 

. . . only in the immediate present. . . , Friendships developed as 
quickly as they broke up. Prisoners would, like early adolescents, 
fight one another tooth and nail, declare that they would never even 
look at one another or speak to one another, only to become close 
friends within a few minutes. They were boastful, telling tales about 
what they had accomplished in their former lives, or how they suc- 
ceeded in cheating foremen or guards, and how they sabotaged the 
work. Like children they felt not at all set back or ashamed when it 
became known that they had lied about their prowess. [7, 445 f.] 

The relapse of more adult attitudes under the strain of some 
deprivation, the stress of conditions that seem irreconcilable with 
established attitudes, or the internal conflicts and contradictions 
between various attitudes is a relatively common form of ego- 
breakdown. We will note it again in the cases of war neuroses 
cited later in this chapter. This regression to a more infantile level 
of adjustment frees a person from what has become his intense 
and trying effort to maintain his more usual consistent status. 
Often quite "normal" people resort to it temporarily for relief. 
Bettelheim notes that, once this regression had taken place: 

No longer was there a split between one to whom things happened 
and the one who observed them . . , everything that happened to 
them, even the worst atrocity, was "real" to them. [7, 437] 

The extent to which the original ego had broken down is indi- 
cated by Bettelheim's statement that 

Once this stage was reached of taking everything that happened in 
the camp as "real," there was every indication that the prisoners who 
had reached it were afraid of returning to the outer world. [437] 

Old prisoners did not like to mention their former social status or 
their former activities, whereas new prisoners were rather boastful 
about them. [7, 443] 


Bettelhcim reports that 

Some of the indications from which one could learn about the 
changed attitudes were: scheming to find oneself a better place in 
the camp rather than trying to contact the outer world, avoiding 
speculation about one's family, or world affairs, concentrating all 
interest on events taking place inside of the camp. [439} 

Old prisoners did not like to be reminded of their families and 
former friends. When they spoke about them, it was in a very 
detached way, [7, 442] 

It is particularly significant that these "broken" prisoners did 
not become completely disorganized chaotic individuals. They 
became, on the contrary, re-formed individuals. Their repeated 
experience and constant exposure to the values in the microcosm 
of the concentration camp gave them new frames of reference, new 
anchorages which determined in large part their thought and 
behavior and with which they identified themselves. Bettelheim 
states that "a prisoner had reached the final stage of adjustment to 
the camf situation when he had changed his personality so as to 
accept as his own the values of the Gestapo'' [447, italics ours] 
Examples of this identification with the Gestapo's values are cited. 
For instance, 

Practically all prisoners who had spent a long time in the camp 
took over the Gestapo's attitude toward the so-called unfit prisoners. 
... So old prisoners were sometimes instrumental in getting rid of 
the unfit, in this way making a feature of Gestapo ideology a feature 
of their own behavior. [7, 448] 

If a "traitor" was found in the midst of the old prisoners, he was 
slowly tortured to death just as the prisoners themselves were 
tortured by the Gestapo, instead of being summarily eliminated. 
The old prisoners tried to get hold of and wear pieces of Gestapo 
uniforms, tried to make themselves look like the guards. Accept- 
ing the Gestapo criticism of American and English newspaper 
accounts of cruelties committed in the camps, the old prisoners 
"would insist that it is not the business of foreign correspondents 
or newspapers to bother with German institutions," [449] 


When erecting buildings for the Gestapo, controversies started 
whether one should build well. New prisoners were for sabotaging, 
a majority of the old prisoners for building well. [7, 449] 

The old prisoners took particular delight in standing smartly at 
attention during the daily roll-call, prided themselves on being 
tough, and even imitated in their own games one of the games 
played by the guards which consisted of discovering "who could 
stand to be hit longest without uttering a complaint." [450] The 
old prisoners accepted the Nazi race theory; they believed in the 
need for German Lebensraum. They accepted "as expression of 
their verbal aggressions, terms which definitely did not originate 
in their previous vocabularies, but were taken over from the very 
different vocabulary of the Gestapo." [447] 

This study of behavior in extreme situations gives us, then, an 
unusually vivid cameo sketch of an individual's initial attempt to 
defend and protect his ego, his attempt to preserve some detach- 
ment, his eventual regression to a more primitive childlike level 
of adjustment, and the reconstruction of his ego along lines deter- 
mined by his experiences and the prevailing values of those in 
complete authority in the little world in which he found himself. 

There is no need to spell out the fact that the methods of 
modern warfare create conditions for the man in active combat 
which place on him enormous, sometimes overwhelming, strain. 
Fortunately for psychology, the effects of these harrowing condi- 
tions on individuals were carefully observed by trained psychia- 
trists during World War II. In their two outstanding books, 
War Neuroses and Men Under Stress, Drs. Grinker and Spiegel 
who served with the Army Air Forces have reported their work 
in considerable detail and have documented it with numerous case 
studies. It is especially significant that these two volumes, the 
second of which prompted General Eisenhower to award the 
authors the Legion of Merit, were both written while the war was 
still going on, while the authors were still on active duty, not, 
therefore, constructing their impressions after a lapse of time and 
formulating their interpretations in any library or remote office. 
[21, 22] Under these conditions and with the men they were 


treating close at hand, the authors use as their own central theme 
the effect of war-created situations on the ego. In the preface of 
War Neuroses, they write: 

Opportunity is furnished by the violent, severe stress of war to 
observe the ego's capacities to handle the rapidly and intensely mo- 
bilized biological and physiological drives signaled by anxiety. [21, vii] 

Elsewhere they state: 

The appearance of the symptoms of a neurosis of war is the signal 
that the weakened ego, no longer able to cope with the accumulated 
anxiety, has begun to sacrifice a part of its normal functions. [21, 123] 

They are careful to point out that the syndromes they encountered 
showed enormous variety with no two being exactly alike. Be- 
cause of this fact the authors show a healthy disregard of any rigid 
classification or pigeonholing. 

In reviewing the accounts of Grinker and Spiegel, we should 
remind ourselves that all of the men they treated were already 
preselected. They had already undergone psychological and psy- 
chiatric tests. And although such tests, as the authors point out, 
still leave much to be desired, (since, for one thing, the psychia- 
trist has "no laboratory means of duplicating the stress to which an 
individual will be exposed in combat" [22, .76]), still there is little 
doubt that the young men selected for the Army Air Force could 
be regarded as above the average in the total population in general 
emotional stability. 

It should also be noted that although the publisher's jacket for 
War Neuroses states that the book is "based on no preconceived 
theories," the authors' treatment of the ego follows a psychoana- 
lytic interpretation which, however, they do not particularly elabo- 
rate or defend. As they employ the term, they do, however, fall 
into the psychoanalytic error of reifying the ego, endowing it with 
an autonomy all its own. They use such phrases, for example, as 
"the ego interprets," [22, 126] "the weakened ego can no longer 
appraise reality," [136] "the ego twists and turns under the pres- 
sure." [21, 137] As we point out in chapter 14, any such concep- 
tion of the ego seems to us quite invalid and unnecessary. But in 
spite of this loose use of the term and disagreements we would 


have with many of the authors* more detailed interpretations of 
specific cases, their rich and penetrating observations and their 
placement of these in an ego context make their studies particu- 
larly pertinent for our purposes here. 

The authors state that "one of the most frequently heard remarks 
in our wards was, 'I took it as long as I could; I can't take it any 
more.' " [21, 69] In a very real sense, this simple everyday state- 
ment of the G.I. sums up the problem of ego-breakdown. The 
job of the psychologist is, of course, to determine precisely what 
the "I" and the "it" mean. Both of these volumes contain elo- 
quent, if horrible, testimony of the fact that the "it" produced by 
combat conditions can and often does break down the "I." 
Grinker and Spiegel use the apt phrase "situational psychotic 
breakdown" in describing the relationship between the individual 
and his immediate environment. Just what the authors mean by 
"situational psychotic breakdown" is shown in the following state- 
ment where they point out that under conditions of great stress 
an individual loses his intellectual capacity to make discrimina- 
tions, indulges in behavior not at all characteristic of himself, and 
may gradually regress to a less mature level of adjustment: 

As the pressure on the ego increases, its inhibitory and intellectual 
functions begin to disappear. Inhibition of the vegetative and motor 
signs of anxiety becomes impossible. Try as he may, the soldier 
cannot prevent the appearance of tremor, tachycardia, tachypnea, and 
restlessness. This is the situation in the moderate anxiety states. A 
little more pressure of anxiety, and the intellectual, appraising func- 
tions of the ego begin to yield. Thought becomes confused and con- 
centration impossible. Discrimination so important in the danger 
situation becomes lost, and when this happens there occurs a further 
increment to anxiety, because now an accurate evaluation of trau- 
matic stimuli cannot be made, and all stimuli seem equally dangerous. 
Caught in this deadly vortex, the ego twists and turns in a desperate 
effort to prevent its complete disintegration. Often patients or sol- 
diers on the field express this need in the verbalization: "I've got to 
get a grip on myself"; and this impulse sometimes finds a motor outlet 
when the patient clutches the nearest object tightly and squeezes it as 
if his life depended on it. As the ego functions give way further, 
various released motor expressions appear: uncontrollable laughing 
and crying, aimless running about. Sudden failures of muscular 


inncrvation occur, comparable to the intellectual failure; and the 
patient may fall down and be unable to arise, because of weakness. 
The loss of ego function appears to be a biological retreat or regres- 
sion to steadily more immature and primitive levels of ego develop- 
ment. This is not a strategic retreat, but a disorderly rout, under the 
overwhelming pressure. [21, 124 f.] 

We can include here only portions from a few of the case studies 
selected by Grinker and Spiegel which provide the evidence for 
this statement. The following case of severe anxiety shows how a 
man "lost control of himself due to dissociation: 

A 32 year old infantryman had taken part in the severe fighting in 
Northern Tunisia. Nothing was known of his past history beyond 
the fact that his company had been subjected to heavy mortar fire 
and dive bombing, while attempting to take a height strongly de- 
fended by the enemy. When brought into the hospital, he was 
unable to speak, and presented the typical picture of severe terror. 
He had coarse, persistent tremors of the hands and lips and started 
violently when any part of his body was touched. At times he 
seemed about to speak, but nothing came of it except inaudible 
whispers. He made no effort to get out of bed or to help himself in 
any way but lay in a flexed posture with his body curled up like an 
intra-uterine fetus. The diagnosis on his field tag was schizophrenia, 
as was the tentative diagnosis made by the admitting officer. It was 
determined to give the patient a few days' rest, sedation, and adequate 
nourishment before specific therapy was initiated. 

At the end of two weeks the clinical picture had undergone con- 
siderable change. The patient was now out of bed, but walked with a 
peculiar simian gait. His knees were bent and his shoulders stooped, 
his arms hung lifelessly at his side to below the knees, and his head 
and neck jutted forward at a peculiar angle. His facial expression 
was one of anxious, puzzled apprehension. He squinted and frowned 
at his attendants as if trying to make out who they were and what he 
had to fear from them. If an attendant made a sudden or unexpected 
motion, the patient would start back with fear. With much stam- 
mering, he asked simple questions in a childlike fashion about who he 
was, where he was, what had happened to him. He asked these 
questions over and over again, never receiving satisfaction. From 
time to time a fatuous smile would cross his face, he would laugh and, 
leaping upon his cot, he would jump up and down on the springs 


and shout "Dive bombers! Dive bombers I", as if it were a huge joke. 
Apparently an accomplished accordion player in the past,* he had his 
instrument with him and enjoyed playing it. He repeatedly played 
the song, "Maybe," singing the words to his accompaniment without 
a trace of his usual stammer. When he sang, his whole face lit up in 
a kind of ecstasy, tears ran out of his eyes, and the apprehension dis- 
appeared, only to return as soon as he put away his instrument. 
There was considerable stereotypy, and various bizarre mannerisms 
reappeared in a regular routine. 

After treatment, this patient made a good recovery. He was able to 
reconstruct his battle experience, and to orient himself in relation to 
his past life. Before his breakdown he had been worried concerning 
his wife's pregnancy, and it appeared that the song, "Maybe," was her 
favorite melody. The bizarre behavior disappeared, and, although 
much anxiety and depression in relation to his battle experience re- 
mained, there was no longer any question of a diagnosis of schizo- 
phrenia. It was obvious that the patient was in a severe anxiety state 
with much regression and disintegration of the ego. As is typical in 
the severe anxiety states, recovery of the ego's functions proceeded 
rapidly after treatment. For a few weeks the gait continued to be 
somewhat shuffling and stooped, without the normal swinging of the 
arms. The facial expression was masked, the skin of the face oily, 
and the eyelids blinked rarely. A moderate tremor of the extremities 
persisted, which was associated with rigidity of the cogwheel type. 
Without a knowledge of the past history of this patient, one would 
have been tempted to diagnose an organic lesion of the extrapyramidal 
system. After four weeks of psychotherapy this patient recovered 
from his depression, and the facial expression became spontaneous 
and lively and the gait normal. Anxiety disappeared except during 
air raids. The patient was able to assume duties in the ward and 
about the hospital, and was eventually discharged. [21, 5ff.] 

We have already noted (pp. 285 /.) how individual men in com- 
bat tend to identify themselves with their combat unit or division. 
Grinker and Spiegel particularly emphasize the important role 
played by ego-involving group loyalties in forestalling dissociation 
and regression. If the support of this identification with a group 
is undermined either by the loss in battle of many group members 
or by the inability of a group to act as a team under overwhelming 


odds, then the individual feels deserted and more alone, and 
regression is much more likely. 

Thus, the problem of anxiety in this context centers about the posi- 
tion of the ego in regard to mastery, independence and freedom of 
activity. In the anxiety problems of early childhood which form the 
core of the usual neurotic process, the ego is peculiarly helpless be- 
cause of its inexperience and its complete dependence on the family 
figures which constitute the threat. In combat, the ego is often 
helpless because of its position in the group and the nature of the 
danger situation. The combat personality surrenders a great deal of 
its freedom of activity to the group, which is then relied upon for 
protection. The efficient functioning of the team is the guarantee of 
safety, and this applies equally to the efficient functioning of equip- 
ment, such as the aircraft, which must be maintained by teams. 
As long as the group demonstrates its ability to master the dangers 
fairly effectively, the individual feels sufficiently protected and com- 
petent in the environment. But when combat losses are high and 
close friends have been lost, or when the individual has experienced 
repeated narrow escapes or a traumatic event f the group is no longer 
a good security, and the ego learns how helpless it is in the situation. 
There is no one to rely upon. At the same time, it cannot overcome 
the dangers by its own efforts because of the actual dependence on 
the group. 

The ego is thus in a regressed and relatively impotent position, 
reminiscent of childhood. Its difficulties accumulate as it withdraws 
more affection from the group and develops greater concern for its 
own fate, only to find that this fate is less and less under control. 
Confidence in the activity of the ego is further shaken by the loss of 
friends with whom there is much identification, when the thought 
arises: "He and I were exactly alike; if it could happen to him, it 
can happen to me." Confidence is diminished in addition by physical 
fatigue and illness and loss of sleep. A vicious circle is established, 
leading to the progressive destruction of confidence in the ego's ability 
to master the dangers. Out of the ensuing helplessness is born the 
intense anxiety. Thus severe anxiety is always secondary to regression 
and dependence of the ego, and its meaning is that in its regressed 
position the ego has been deserted by all the forces which could help 
and protect it; nothing can be done, and the only possible method 
-of avoiding complete dissolution is by flight. [22, 129 f., italics ours] 


These reports of the effect of an individual's participation in a 
group under conditions imposed by war is consistent with and 
further confirms our discussion of ego-involvements in group 
situations in chapter 10. 


The vast literature of abnormal psychology is filled with ex- 
amples of individuals who, for one reason or another, change from 
their usual socially acceptable and predictable selves to individuals 
whose behavior, perception, judgment, thought, or imagination has 
become disorganized, so incompatible with reality, so dissociated 
or so idiosyncratic that they are no longer classifiable as "normal." 
Case studies reported by Janet, Prince, Sidis and others have by 
now become classics in the field. No matter what classification the 
psychologist or the psychiatrist may use to describe a particular 
patient (and these classifications do not concern us here), the 
general underlying symptom is that these "abnormal" individuals 
exhibit in one way or another a distorted ego reference, can no 
longer adjust themselves to the objective conditions around them. 
In a short paper on The Psychopathology of the Ego System, 
Kisker and Knox [27] show how certain mental disorders can be 
considered as ego disturbances. Basing their discussions on 
Koffka's conception of the ego, they note that "the ego has of 
necessity been postulated in psychology for the same reason that 
astronomers were forced to postulate a previously unknown 
planet" [66 f.] and they believe that "a large number of functional 
mental disorders are matters of the ego and its relationships." [67] 
Such mental disorders mentioned are regression, "a detached ego, 
split ego, excessive development of the 'myness' system, and ego- 
isolation." [68] 

This breakdown of ego reference is vividly seen in what has 
come to be called "depersonalization." In William A. White's 
Outlines of Psychiatry [44], widely used as a basic text in the field 
of abnormal psychology, the author sets the stage for his discussion 
of "Disorders of Personality" as follows: 


The individual, besides receiving certain information from the en- 
vironment and forming certain ideas, has beyond this a consciousness 
of self, a feeling that all his perceptions and ideas are experiences of a 
single self, a self that maintains its own individual identity through- 
out, and which the individual calls "I." This problem of self-con- 
sciousness, although the riddle of psychology, presents certain features 
useful in elucidating the problem in hand. [44, 69] 

And in this discussion, after indicating what is meant by "trans- 
formation of the personality," White describes "depersonalization": 

A lesser degree of the same sort of process results in a disorganiza- 
tion, a breaking up of the personality. This is seen in many condi- 
tions and is associated with a feeling of unreality, and occurs as a 
part of the delirium of negation. The patients proclaim that they 
are changed, they are not themselves. One of my patients would look 
in the glass and stare in wonder at her reflection, saying her eyes 
were not hers, they were cat's eyes. Another patient affirmed she had 
no head, no arms, no body, no mind, nothing. The feeling of per- 
sonal identity in these cases has become disrupted, the personality 
disorganized. [44, 70] 

Another description of this significant concept (depersonalization) 
may be cited from Schilder: [39] 

It is known that cases of this type [depersonalization] do not 
experience other people as personalities, but as inanimate automatons 
and dolls. Furthermore, the outward world looks dreamlike and 
unreal. Their own selves seem to have disappeared. The patients 
feeljhat they themselves act mechanically. They do not acknowledge 
their perceptions, feelings, and emotions. "There is no real me. 
I seem to myself like a puppet." [39, 188 f.] 

Persons who are described by the very general label of "schizo- 
phrenic" are characterized by the radical breakdown of the more 
usual frames of reference they had developed to give meaning to 
their environment. Somehow these frames have become inade- 
quate and inconsistent When these standards for judgment and 
action collapse, the ego collapses, because these frames with all the 
emotional overtones of value judgments they contained were so 
integral a part of the self. A case study by Paris [13] gives a good 


example of how and probably why a young man was committed 
to a state hospital with the diagnosis of schizophrenia. Paris 
points out that 

In the course of Albert's life there arose a number of conflicts and 
problems which were a great source of torment. These tore at his 
mind in a variety of ways. The confused mores in his culture, the 
contrasting groups to which he held partial loyalty, and the incon- 
sistencies of promise and achievement in his career such elements 
form the contribution of social disorganization to the personal dis- 
organization he was suffering. His behavior during the period of 
his psychosis represents an adaptation to these problems. It was a 
poor adaptation, since it did not fit him to survive in the competition 
of the contemporary civilization; but it was organized and for a time 
seemed to promise better things. [13, 135 /., italics ours] 

Among other conflicts Albert suffered were these: 

He had acquired in his youth a violent anti-Semitic prejudice, only 
to discover in his adulthood that his family was of Jewish descent. 
. . . He had acquired a strong moral objection to commercial art, 
which he considered "prostitution" of his talent; but he could earn 
his living only by means of that kind of art. . . . During the first 
part of his career his economic success was satisfactory and rapid, and 
within five or six years after his start he was earning as much as $400 
a month and had plans for projects which he hoped would carry him 
further. His failures after the collapse of the Florida boom and in 
the later major depression gave him considerable torment. [13, 136] 

As Paris notes, the patient's 

. . . conception of his status was derived not from a harmonious 
social group of which he was a primary member but rather from 
distant and mixed sources and partly derived from his reading and 
daydreaming. . . . He could not find a group in which he could 
achieve an integrated and harmonious personality. . . . Albert was t in 
a sense, lost, since he was culturally marginal in several respects. . . . 
The conflicts produced in Albert internal strains and an intolerable 
sense of being internally divided. . . . The solution he found, while 
undesirable from the point of view of survival in society, did have a 
logical relation to the nature of Albert's particular problems. It did 
not demand a change that he could not make. It resolved the conflicts 
so that he could have unity in his character without pulling himself 


out of trouble by his bootstraps. An internal war thus came to a sud- 
den end, and the conflicting elements temporarily came to rest. [13, 
136 f., italics ours] 

The particular solution this patient adopted to relieve his marginal 
statul was to identify himself with a certain mystical semireligious 
philosophy which the reading of a certain book stimulated his 
imagination to create. Thereafter he acted as quite a different 
person, claiming superhuman strength, the ability to stop any 
speeding car or bullet, the ability to "be" any person he desired, 
and so on. 

Angyal describes another "schizophrenic" who had lost all the 
ego reference of his experiences, especially those based on muscle 
sensation: [3] 

In my patient, as in many schizophrenic patients, the basic differ- 
entiation between the ego and the external world is grossly impaired. 
Parts of the patient's body and of his mental and physical activities 
are excluded from self-awareness, arc not experienced as belonging to 
his ego. The patient complains that the jaw he has is not his jaw, 
"it is only set in." He complains that his arm feels "lifeless," does 
not belong to him; that he has "no real skull but only a wooden 
frame"; that his teeth are "false," etc. Some of the thoughts he has are 
not his thoughts; "somebody gives them [to him] silently; they put 
them into [his] head." Sometimes some words come to him; he does 
not think them, "the words just show up in [his] system." It seems 
to him also as if some one else thinks in him, "as if I had two or three 
people with me." He has also the experience of having an alter ego 
(Doppel ganger) . Sometimes even his emotions are experienced as 
disconnected from his ego: "In my stomach there is something, it 
feels like anger." "In the teeth it feels like anger, as if they would 
want to bite, to grab everything." Another time he said: "They put 
some glorious feeling inside of you, as if you had done something 
great." [1035 f., italics ours] 

In analyzing this particular case, Angyal writes in part as 

The outstanding feature in the psychopathologic picture of the 
patient is profound disturbances of self-awareness. The psychologic 
experiences of the patient have partly lost their usual relation to the 


ego: He feels that parts of his body, his thoughts and his feelings do 
not belong to his ego but are things foreign to him. 

Analogous disturbances are to be observed in regard to the psycho- 
motor activity. The patient's actions have partly lost their usual rela- 
tion to the ego. They are excluded from the self and appear to the 
patient not as his own actions but as something "done" to him. The 
muscular activities or tendencies to such activities generate changes 
in the muscle tonus, which, because they have lost their ego-reference, 
are psychologically accounted for as foreign forces acting on the body. 
. . . Analysis of these symptoms clearly indicates their origin in mus- 
cular activities which have become disconnected from the ego. . . . 
The loss of ego-reference of muscular activity is a manifestation of a 
more general disturbance of self -awareness. The latterMs not further 
analyzed in this paper but is taken as a descriptive fact. From the 
psychologic point of view, the loss of ego-reference seems to represent 
a special \ind of defense mechanism. [3, 1052 f. f italics ours] 

Some individuals are classified as "abnormal" when they become 
so elated and euphoric that their behavior transgresses the bound- 
aries of social tolerance. In such instances the usual ego-involved 
standards of conduct and behavior dissolve. An illustration can 
be taken from McDougall: [32] 

A professional man in middle life, of good heredity, had shown no 
previous trace of instability. His history would justify classing him 
with the cyclo-thymic type. He had, when young, suffered some 
periods of very mild depression and apathy, such as might be called 
merely prolonged moods of discouragement. And at other times he 
had displayed an almost excessive activity and energy, working ex- 
tremely hard in preparation for examinations and achieving athletic 
feats that required tremendous endurance and energy. He became 
actively engaged in a Presidential campaign. He had long been 
keenly interested in politics and in certain planks of his party's plat- 
form; but he had never before taken an active part in electioneering, 
whether State or Federal, and had never spoken in public. He ap- 
proached his new task with considerable diffidence; but he very soon 
found that he was an effective campaign orator. He was immensely 
pleased, stimulated, and elated by his success. He worked with ex- 
treme enthusiasm and energy. He sought and seized every oppor- 
tunity for addressing public gatherings. At first his colleagues in the 
particular local campaign were full of admiration; but after some days 


they were obliged to communicate with his relatives and ask them to 
remove him from the scene. For his conduct had begun to pass the 
bounds of the normal and the decorous, and he was beginning to 
make himself a nuisance to them. He angrily resented all their sug- 
gestions to the effect that he needed a rest and had done his share; he 
was utterly impervious to their arguments and persuasion. Instead of 
taking a long night's rest after his hard day's work, he would get up 
very early in the morning and, appearing at the window of his hotel 
bedroom, would gather a crowd in the street by his animated and 
somewhat strange behaviour, and deliver to them a fiery address, 
freely exchanging jokes and pleasantries with his auditors. As he 
afterwards put it, he felt like a god; for he could sway his audience 
as he wished, evoking enthusiastic agreement and applause. Such 
admiring response from public gatherings is, as we know, strong 
drink for any man. Even men long and gradually accustomed to 
such successes suffer a kind of intoxication on such occasions; and, as 
with drugs, they acquire a morbid need and craving for ever new and 
larger doses; they cannot live without the "lime-light." And in this 
hitherto quiet and retiring professional man the intoxication went to 
the point of throwing him off his balance. He was brought home by 
the exercise of much tact and patience. He refused to submit to 
medical examination, declaring that he had never before been so fit 
and strong. [32, 358 f.] 

Cases of split and multiple personalities are, perhaps, the most 
dramatic and well known in the abnormal literature. The same 
individual can be two or more quite different "persons," each may 
have complete amnesia for the experiences of the other and not 
even recognize the other self. Franz's Persons One and Three [14] 
can be taken as fairly typical. The individual involved had ap- 
parently suffered various harrowing experiences during World 
War I and was brought to Dr. Franz's office by the police who 
had picked him up in a completely confused state of mind. "He 
did not recognize his surroundings, he asked to have his name 
supplied to him, and he did not know the approximate date." [1] 
The fascinating story of Franz's successful effort to bring together 
"persons One and Three" need not concern us here. (Person Two 
was represented by a period of time separating persons One and 
Three and remained a complete blank in the patient's conscious- 


ness.) What docs concern us is that the individual as person One 
was quite a different individual from what he was as person Three. 

When asked about his nationality and birthplace he replied that he 
did not know where he was born, nor how old he really was, although 
he could approximate his age within a few years. He had no idea 
what his father's occupation was, nor did he know what he himself 
had been doing prior to April, 1915, at which time he became con- 
scious of himself. [14, 26] 

Even self-recognition was lacking: 

Later I led him into another room in which there was a mirror, and 
I suggested that he look at himself in the glass. He appeared to be 
greatly upset at his appearance, and after having taken one look, he 
said: "My God, is that me?" [14, 62] 

Habit systems were altered, as the following indicates: 

Twice also Jack was found to have purchased cigars, and to have 
smoked them. In his so-called "normal" state he did not smoke cigars. 
He had not smoked them since 1914. When, therefore, Jack re- 
verted to his first personality the old habit came to the fore. [14, 131] 

Franz's description of the first meeting of persons One and 
Three is revealing. While the doctor was going over a map with 
the patient in an attempt to help him reconstruct the course of his 
wanderings as a soldier in World War I: 

Suddenly he stopped, and with his finger directed to a point and a 
name, said, "Voi! I was there. I had a monkey." His emotion was 
obvious. He was greatly excited. Memory was trickling through. 
The walled-off memories could not be kept impounded. The face of 
the dam gave way, and there was an onrush carrying all before it. 
It was irresistible. The memories were eddying, and tossing one over 
another. His remarks came too rapidly to be recorded. He traveled 
from Africa to France, to the United States, to England, and to Ire- 
land, back and forth. Ideas were tumbling about in their mad rush 
to come to the surface. In a few minutes he had lived fifteen years. 
He had met, and he had recognized, himself. [14, 79, italics ours] 

Although Franz was unable to learn much of the early history of 
his strange patien